Fun fact, there is a Whitman College at Syracuse University. Not knowing this, Owen and I made a whole bunch of accidental enemies who thought we were being snobs for not saying we were from Syracuse. Now if anybody asks I’m from Washington State.
I’m not used to being with people from New York. At Whitman I’m pretty unique as an east coaster. Here, unsurprisingly (and yes, I should’ve figured this out before) everybody is from Syracuse or that general area. Personally, I think it’s more fun to be unique.
Also, there are a lot of Rebecca’s here. (I go by Rebecca here because Italians really struggle to say Becca). One Rebecca is in all of my classes. I keep panicking and raising my hand when they call her for attendance, so I’m probably going to end up getting her grades instead of my own and vice versa.
Some Italian words are easy to pronounce. “Ciao” is easy. It means “hey”. Other words are harder. Spoon for example, is dangerously close to the word “cocaine” and, try as I might, I just can’t master the two of them. Luckily, Enzo and Donatella have a good sense of humor about it and laugh every time I ask to have one of their cocaines with my meal.
I’m trying to keep my room clean. If I don’t clean it every day before I leave Donatella comes in and straightens up. I don’t mind at all, but it feels like maybe I should just keep my room clean instead. Some morning’s it’s hard though. This morning I stumbled around trying to get ready for school (okay, so my first class was at 11:15, but I slept in until 10:30 so I still felt pretty rushed) and left my room a total mess thinking I’d come and clean it after school, only to come home and find a cleaning angel had gotten there first.
There are things here that would bother me if I wasn’t a guest in someone else’s house. For example, last night Donatella came in after I was in bed to get a credit card out of my desk for something or other. She was very nice about it, but I can see how American Becca would be irritated to have her in my space. Truthfully though, it’s hard to be mad at someone who cooks your dinners and cleans your room. I think she could probably do a lot more before I got actually annoyed.
I do wish Pauldino hadn’t figured out how to open my bedroom door, however. Sometimes he comes in at four in the morning and confuses the heck out of me.
Another funny thing about Donatella is how LOUD she is. She is awake any time from 11 to 4 am with the tv on full blast, smashing her way around the kitchen. I don’t know how Enzo sleeps through it, but I know he does because I can hear him snoring in the other room! My second night here I experimented with the white noise soundtrack of pounding rain AND the ocean as well as needing to use my eye mask because my room window opens out to the kitchen, bathroom and hallway so I get all the light funneled into my room.
On the one hand, I’d really love to go to sleep in a silent, dark house. On the other, I’m pretty amused by just how much sound a tiny woman can make. She begins every morning by groaning herself awake, with exclamations of “ay! ayyyy!” but when she gets out of bed she’s chipper as always, talking to me about dancing and whatever she did last night. I think she’s a little disappointed that we aren’t wild and crazy like other American students.
When I came to Florence, I was braced for more conventional attitudes about family and home life here. I was worried that I’d be put in a house with a total patriarch that I’d have to go along with because I was living in his house. Enzo and Donatella are not like that. As a couple, they seem to fit perfectly. She’s loud and he’s quiet, but he really seems to enjoy her noise, sometimes ratcheting it up a few decibels to join her.
Also, and this is my favorite thing – he helps her cook. When she’s out late, Enzo cooks the meals. He takes his turn walking the dogs – taking them out at night, when it’s not as safe for her to be out alone – and really really cares about her.
Last night, Donatella and I stayed around the dinner table drinking espresso and watching an Italian movie. (I think she actually likes vaguely translating for me because the position centers around talking). The movie itself was pretty easy to follow – plot wise, obviously, I don’t speak Italian. Even if I did, they were from Napoli and spoke in heavy accents that Donatella could barely understand herself – and it was silly and enjoyable, so I stayed until 11:30 watching it with her while I helped her clean up the kitchen (Owen helped with this too, before going to his room to call a friend. We both take helping Donatella clean up the kitchen very seriously. Enzo goes out with the dogs and we pick up plates and shorten the kitchen table etc. until everything’s done – in reality it’s not that much work, but I think we both really like feeling like we’re helping).
Since Owen and I weren’t going for a walk that evening, I asked if I could walk the dogs with Donatella that night. When Enzo came home from dinner with his mother, he looked me straight in the eye and asked if I was definitely going to walk with Donatella after the film. I said “si. si” (I know I’m so good at Italian) and he looked me straight in the face for several seconds, before nodding and going to get into his pajamas. He clearly didn’t want Donatella going out alone at midnight and seemed to be making sure I took being her companion seriously.