So it broke today. Shortly thereafter, I dropped off my friend at the airport and now — quiet. On the inside, I’m still in that dawn moment of light within grey and awakening. It’s nice to have some moments linger.
But dallying too long is not permitted by time. Birthday celebrations later this week for Shelby. Lots of preparations to be made and then on the road again. It has been quite a year for travel and looks like the end of the year will be no different.
Wishing everyone shrouded thoughts on this Halloween day. Enjoy a moment of disguise.
It should be easier. Less dressing and planning — more decadence and life. But seeing Irene and Steve get married was beautiful. There were mountains, the sun began to set. A light that isn’t an everyday event took hold of the moment. But still. . .
They were married in a vineyard, so there was wine. And it was good. Some dancing, but to be honest, and I hate to say this publicly, but I missed a dear friend of mine in Florence. He would have had so much fun. I took my camera but left it in the car. Oh well. Just close your eyes and picture the Appalachians — our Earth’s oldest mountains — and the gentle ease of the rising against the end of a day. All my best for new beginnings and love.
It’s grey here. And damp. Already fed the kitties, had some yogurt, I know coffee is soon to follow — then looking at another day of painting. The repetitive nature of my life here is a tad underwhelming. These murky mornings tend to make the day drag until something happens. Of course, nothing happens here. Life within the walls of my former home weigh me down with memories, current needs, and the misfired past desires of containment. Now, I just want out.
My mood was not helped when I watched an FSU feature on TV yesterday. It was about International Programs and Florence was featured heavily. My former colleagues and friends were interviewed. I even appeared in the background lit by the light from my library’s windows. It was like looking at pictures after a break-up. Everything about Florence came rushing back to me. The piazzas, the food, especially the tiny coffee cups of espresso goodness. It’s maybe worse than a break up, because it is still there, waiting. It will not ignore me when I walk by or refuse to call or write. Florence would never divulge intimacies to its neighbors in an attempt at shaming me. And I doubt seriously it would call me in the middle of the night, only to hang-up. It is the perfect love—reflective and contingent on my love of it. And when it ends, as all love does, it will remain a point in my life that is positive and without regret.
Luckily, I have over two weeks of solid travel coming up. That will certainly get the blood flowing and the life-force coursing. And in that two weeks I’ll get to be introduced to a city I suspect I may have a fling with—a slight diversion from pining—New York City. Hmmm, now the possibilities are stirring me into awareness. In the meantime, painting, painting, painting.
I ate fruit salad, drank orange juice and water out of wine goblets while sitting on a park bench in my neighborhood this morning. The talk was about fiction, writing, film and lost love. This leafy space is referred to as the green lung of Santa Croce and I never knew it existed until today. Well, it seems there is always more to learn.
We know nothing. But, it is good to have a space to re-thread memories, make new ones, discuss the important things. A place to breathe, watch dogs pant in the heat and analyze pigeon logic. It’s not quite knowledge but it is akin to life and that is close.
I have recently learned of a loss. For me, it is a loss of a good writer, but for so many it is the loss of a friend, brother and partner. So Will, find your equivalent green space now.
Naturally, life is bipolar, so I also received an invitation to an upcoming wedding which I’ll happily attend. Irene and Steve, allow some green space where you can think before the fun plans of marriage escalate. And congrats on finding each other.
Sidenote on weekend: Attended a concert in Viareggio of (I think) Baustelle. Watched the fireworks of White Nights intermittently while driving through some random town (which turns out to be Livorno). Sat on a pier while friends swam below me and strange boys gathered by a bonfire — thumbnail moon and bright Venus carried on til grey pink dawn. And I am happy like I’ve not been in years.
4 a.m. on Sunday morning two friends and I decided to go to the beach. There is a beach just past Livorno with white sand and blue water. Well, blue is not the best word. It is more pale green blue. It looks like the crayon you would use for coloring the scales of a mermaid. Or like someone found the most innocent of eyes and reflected their gaze with the sea.
The beach was about one and a half hours away, still in Tuscany. So there are hills surrounded by fields of sunflowers and intermittent palaces tucked out of way. We saw a bleary sunrise — it looked like it was tired of that same familiar path over stone and water and buildings. Later it rallied.
After coming down a hill, water on our right that was deep blue, there were twists and turns and finally we reached level ground. Everything lightened up, not just the water but the plants the homes the sky. And so the day just stretched on while we lingered on towels, waves, under umbrellas, eating gelato, coated in sunscreen, covered in sand — you know — the beach. I didn’t know what to do with so much light. The stone of Florence absorbs the light, only releasing it in designated areas. Here it was impossible to escape, it covered every inch of sight.
So we slept, then ran into the sea and walked, talked; happy in our adventure we smiled. Soaking it up for 11 hours. The drive back was quiet. The work week ahead. But the day worth the cost of sleep.
San Giovanni is Florence's patron saint. Every year, Florence celebrates the day in a typically Italian fashion — stores close down, restaurants stay open and (for the past 21 years) fireworks appear over the Arno at night. It is to this last thing that I need to address. Be patient.
Fireworks, as I have said before, are one of my favorite things. And in my current life over here, they are exactly what I needed on Saturday night. (Yes, that tension of leaving has me in a sort of cathartic loop.) So off I went, solo, to sit and stand in the persistent heat of night along the Arno awaiting the celebration of my temporary home's patron saint — requisite water, sangria, and cell phone in hand. Luckily I had some intuition to get there early and the mob that showed up later made me feel like a genius on my coveted concrete stoop in front of the pulled-to shutters of an electric store. I was excited.
They shoot the fireworks off from the Piazza de Michelangelo, on the other side of the Arno, towards Santa Croce. I was in perfect viewing range. And so it happened as it always does. Boom and the lights go out along the streets. Children and adults "ooh" "ahh". A drunk yells profanity at the lost trail of a dud. And boom. Another explosion, color, and the glittery remains marking its imprint. Rapid fire towers of light and white against the night. The illuminated fantasy of flowers and trees burning in the negative space; closing your eyes they remain. Percussion going deep, shaking something loose inside you. Purple, gold, Christmas revisited, weeping strands flowing down to the river. I'll say it again; I love fireworks. We all need something firing, exploding, expanding within us that is beautiful, that is light, that is dark.
I've been to Italy before this trip. About 15 years ago, my brother Duncan, John (my boyfriend at the time), and myself went backpacking across Europe. Dad gave us some spending money, but we were in no way living the good life. Venice was the first stop we made. The first thing I remember is the light. The light is different, especially in Venice. You can't find the source of it due to the water, surface, and reflection. Light is everywhere. And of course I remember San Marco. And being hungry. I'm almost always hungry.
My brother is a cautious and frugal traveler. I say that about him when I really mean it about myself. We both are. We had very limited money. So, while in Italy we bought two things. Not a fake David, no poster of Venus on the half-shell. We indulged ourselves with a pound of cherries and a bag of sugar cookies. Those two things took us all the way to France. My stomach hated me later, but while eating the cherries, life was good.
And now I'm back, and the cherries are in. Like tomatoes, pasta, garlic, olive oil, and food in general, Italians do cherries very well. No, they don't have the splendor of the Cherry Festival in DC. In fact, I rarely see a tree. But the cherries are in full. Big, beautiful baskets and buckets of cherries. It almost, but not quite, compares to the kind of blueberry bliss that I have just outside of DeFuniak Springs, Florida on my cousin Johnny Hugh's land. Certainly now there are blueberries weighing down those silvery bushes? But I'm here. And for now, the cherries must appease. Just for old time's sake, I splurged on a bag of sugar cookies too.