I think the English are coming.
Yesterday I ate at Oil Sandwich Shoppe (delicious — you can get some kind of cocoa oil drizzle and truffle spread!), then had dinner for 5 euro at St. James Episcopal Church with some of the students (more on that later), and ended the night in Angie’s Pub getting a free drink from the bartender with spiky hair and an orange tie. Bizarre land. Not bizarre so much as not very Italian.
Some of the students asked me to go last week to dinner with them at the church. It is very cheap and great food, so they convinced me to go this week (I took a faculty member w/me for propriety’s sake). They call themselves the orphans, and after eating there I understand why. We sat at huge tables and if you come late, you just have to find a spot. Everyone gets a place setting and they call the tables up one by one. Bottles of wine are passed out, salad eventually served, anyway, it was a strange experience and had a hint of orphanage about it. I ended up sitting with a guy from Norway, 3 guys from Italy, a girl from Seattle, so the discussion took on global proportions. Not having been to church very often in my life, the communal vibe was a tad overwhelming. Is it like that at all church gatherings?
Two of my assistants sat at the end of my table and now I can relate to all of my former bosses who were confronted with social situations with those who work for you. You don’t want to seem uptight, but you don’t want to let your guard down too much because you know the next day they will be at work and you have to still be in charge. A new feeling for me. I hope I found a balance.
Walking back I had another one of those moments, I looked up and there was the Santa Maria Novella which I had not seen yet and slipping into wonder by rounding a corner is . . . well, I’ll let you fill in the blank. But the word should feel like beauty, adventure, and awe.
So, tomorrow I head to Rome. I’ll spend my birthday (my 5th 7-year cycle!) Saturday at the Sistine Chapel. Tonight I finally am going to the chocolate festival. So, to Claudia and Jessica — HAPPY BIRTHDAY. I’ll send you both Italian vibes.