The log jam broke today, I’m not sure why exactly, but I know I am going to have a headache in the morning. Even though we have been having a frenetic pace for three days of great food and wine there has been a reservation between people. I am finally comfortable that I made the right decision, since it was such a shot in the dark, but stir in all the different personalities, the fact that there are only three grown up students, a lot of kids who drink too much, everyone that smokes, varying degrees of arrogance and insecurity, bathrooms that have showers that are so small you have to go outside to turn around, linens that smell like liquid smoke, beds that are so soft you sink in the middle and stay there, a 12” TV that broadcasts ONLY Italian, and generally an unfamiliarity that permeates every single thing that you do from a cup of coffee to the way the toilet flushes. None of the items is particularly difficult to adjust to, but the package taken as a whole can be quite overwhelming. I keep trying to stay firm and adjust, but really, I have completely left my body, as it is the only way to maintain in the chaos for the last few days.
I attend class, run out of clean underwear, don’t know how to use the washing machine, let alone read the information on the dials, can’t find the dryer, hang my grandma underpants out to dry on the shared veranda draped over the legs of an overturned plastic footstool and toast my socks like a good risotto on the now-unused air-conditioning unit outside. I turn things toward the sun at lunch break, but by dinner it is raining. We have one room key for two people, heaters with governors and tile floors that maintain a constant 32* F. Cliques of 20-something students are spending more time figuring out who to pair up than how to make a good arriabata, ignore instructions and time lines and show up late for class, which pisses the chef off. All around good fun.
Well, something happened tonight and more than just to me, although plenty happened to me. My phone cut out on the 6th of January without me getting a new SIM card and calling card to make cheap phone calls. My laptop simply stopped communicating with the wifi network last night, no particular reason, just stopped.
A pile of us, 8 including the cab driver, squeezed into a Fiat (two in the microscopic hatchback), and we headed for town to solve our collective cell phone problems. I was lucky enough to be first, perhaps because I couldn’t even get the worried look off my face, even though I didn’t say anything. The lovely lady behind the counter explained it all to me, my options, the cost, how to put a new SIM card in, everything. I of course, understood nothing. That’s where Dominico came in handy. Dominico, who doesn’t speak any English, translated for me, and believe it or not, even though the translator was translating from Italian to Italian, I actually got it. But, naturally, nothing is that easy. I bought the SIM card, put it in and I asked for a code number, and I have no idea what that number might be. I do think that someone at AT&T gave me a number, but it is in Wasilla and I am on the planet Jupiter, and remember my laptop does not work any longer.
I took a deep breath, put the stuff in my pocket and left the store no further ahead, but grateful to have gotten that far. It occurred to me that there must be a lesson in this so I thought about it and came up with perhaps I need to let it go, maybe I am not supposed to be connected daily and just immerse myself in the experience. That may possibly be a load of bullshit, but since I cannot do anything at all about any of it, I decided to let it go. Then I went to the supermarket and bought, baby powder, chocolate, a scrubby, ( they don’t use washcloths here)and a bottle of Amaro, which is a digestive bitters, that I love. I would love to tell you that I just took some breaths and I was all clear, but it took the chocolate, wine with dinner and a glass of the Amaro before I really separated from the anxiety.
I may not have been the only one at the table who had an extra glass of wine cause there was the kind of edgy laughter that you get when a group is tense and then they hit the break point. Soon it turned into uproarious mildly hysterical laughter, followed by a collective letting go. You could feel it in the room. Everyone finally relaxed.
It was wonderful, and I slept like a rock, as soon as the bed stopped spinning. 🙂