The thing I’m definitely struggling most to adjust to here is the concept that it’s okay to do nothing. Before I got to Florence I was backpacking, in a new city every other day. Then I was doing everything. I was walking all hours of the day, collapsing into bed exhausted each night, and I think that’s just as it should’ve been. But there’s a big difference between traveling through somewhere and living there. Predominately – and I’m just starting to realize this now – the fact that you can’t sustain the kind of energy output that you need when you’re traveling.
Maybe this is only coming up because I’m sick (thanks Owen) or as a result of the fact that I’ve walked between 13 and 22 miles every day since arriving in Florence, almost twenty days ago. I was mildly hallucinating last night in bed enough to see…well, not the face of God exactly, but the combination of my jacket hanging over the stained glass window bore a remarkable resemblance to Johnny Depp.
There are moments when the language barrier is absolutely hilarious. At dinner last night Donatella was vividly acting out all of the ways in which she had knee pain and trying to explain to us the doctor?/masseuse?/physical therapist?/surgeon? she was going to. I’m sure the actual explanation of what she was doing was quite normal, but the words that made it few the language barrier gave the impression that she was going to a doctor three times a week to get shots of acetic acid into her arms and legs.
Another moment like that happened today. I walked an hour out of the city to buy new sneakers (not because I stepped in the largest pile of dog crap that’s ever existed, but that certainly sped things along). When I brought my sneakers up to the register the man greeted me in Italian. I repeated the greeting back to him – I’m good like that – causing him to let off a chain of Italian sentences. I gave him my best “panic look” and he sighed, “English?”
“Yeah, that’d be good”
He finished ringing me up and said what I imagine was supposed to be something along the lines of “you have thirty days to return your shoes” but what he actually said was, “You have thirty days to change everything.”
On an unrelated note, I feel like the incredible Hulk in the ironically named “Grande house”. Some of the stone counter tops in the bathroom aren’t stuck to the counters with anything but sheer gravity. Nearly every time I walk in, I end up knocking at least one of them over and sending absolutely everything on it tumbling to the floor. Also, there’s a little glass shelf in the shower which might be at shoulder height for the Grande’s but is exactly the height of my elbow. The shelf is slanted and wobbles, so that when I accidentally knock into it – at least twice a shower, the little glass shelf jumps and sends all of Donatella’s shampoos crashing to the floor. The Grande’s have gotten used to the “Crash! CRASH! Ow! Sorry!” Combination of me trying to get from the door to the shower, which is comforting, because the first couple times I was worried Donatella would come busting in the door.
Related to that, she walked in on me topless yesterday. It was 7:30 in the morning and Owen and I had to leave for our Rome trip at 8 (More on Rome in the next post). Owen was awake, showered, dressed and eating breakfast, which is unsurprising since he has a habit of both waking up earlier than me and, unsurprisingly, getting to places on time more often than me. It was my intention to smear out of bed and roll down the street to the bus station with a couple seconds to spare. In the kitchen I heard (you can hear absolutely everything in this house) Donatella ask Owen “Where’s Becca?”
And I thought, uh oh.
Owen’s answer of, “She’s probably asleep, but that’s okay…” was already trailing away when it came out of his mouth and I could tell by the sound of footsteps that Donatella was veering toward my room. I sat up and reached for my shirt just in time for Donatella to come walking through the door.
Damn, I thought, too much asleep to do much more than blink at her in confusion.
“Owen is eating breakfast,” she announced.
“Um, yeah. I know.”
She nodded and left the room.
When I came home that day there were curtains over the glass paneling of my door, giving me privacy from everybody coming through the entryway. I feel like knocking would’ve also been a solid way to keep Donatella from walking in on me naked but the curtains are nice too. Actually they’re really great because they block out the light from Donatella’s 3am television watching and prevent innocent passer’s by from watching me change so I suppose I’ll chalk the whole interaction up to be a win.
There’s an issue with the shower in that it only drains when I’m not using it. The first time I showed Donatella she said “this has never happened before” and I thought “great” because I feel like people have been saying that a lot to me lately – the landlords of my house in Statia were like “wow, we’ve never had a tree grow into the plumbing of the house before” and my landlord in NYC was like “I’ve never had the entire ceiling come down on one of my renters before” etc. etc. I’m not saying I don’t trust her. I’m just saying I’ll be keeping all of my things in an emergency preparedness bag so I can just hop onto Noah’s Ark with the rest of the animals when the next great flood comes.