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Success, Failure...some of my greatest failures have been a springboard to my greatest successes...the terms are truly fluid.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

24 Francesca’s Wisdom

     When my fortunes changed, I felt so much freer and less restricted both inside and out that when Francesca told me to stay again for the Karaoke party, I stayed. This was not a bar in the states but a family place where Spencer and I could both have fun together and go home if it got too wild.

     He went off to play and I tried to be as helpful as possible while the Bar filled up with platters of local food. Anyone who knows me, realizes that my favorite functions include pot lucks any day over restaurant dishes. Homemade food is always more spicey and tastes like love is a key ingredient and comes in a dazzling array of bowls and platters. To me that is simply thrilling. I had to admit that this food was like the finest of Italian restaurants back home, I mean the fancy ones in San Francisco. The beautiful girl behind the counter did not have to tell me to eat more then once for me to start flitting through the multitude of tasty hors d’houvres. I was thrilled!

     Of course I went right for the marinated eggplant loaded with lots of large fresh garlic chunks. Most of my adult life I have been with a male who really hated it when I ate my fill of garlic, but I sure adore garlic in all of its strongest splendor. But since here I no longer have either a husband or fidenzata…it seemed like a great time to exert control over my own eating habits. I ate the tasty slices of pickled vegetables of all kinds, seafood salads and the heavenly pomodori bruschetta with vigor and relish. Francesca’s relative behind the counter, offered me a free beer. I decided that since I was exercising such wreckless abandon with the garlic, it would be a great time to try Italian beer.

     Right after I started sipping at it I saw the small barrel it came from and realized it was a hearty German beer…my brother-in-law would be so proud of me since he is a hearty German who drinks his share of beer. Since I am a tea drinker my mind went to a conversation a few nights ago when I wound up creating a minor mess by declining a nice man, (the one who showed me cards last week), when he tried to buy me a beer. I explained that I only really drink tea. It was not understood at all and it looked like a vocal rejection in front of everybody. That taught me that if someone wants to buy me a drink…I should probably just say yes and enjoy the niceness instead of trying to wade through Italian culture with my silly tea culture sensiblities.  If he saw me now he would think I was a liar, and I guess I am…from one week to the next I feel like I am a different person. Terri from last week never drank beer…but today I am Teresa in Italy…Teresa seems cool enough to at least sip at a beer.

     Spencer was out playing still and I was sitting alone. I could not resist my book worm ways and found myself furtively writing all the rich language around me on little recipe cards I had folded up in my suit jacket. Pieces of conversations were being recorded from all around me. This was simply the most fun I have ever had in a Bar in my life!! As a language nut…it felt incredible to soak up this wonderful rich source of words flying around me from all directions.

    I realized at one point that though I was wretchedly poor, I had not actually spent a dime but felt as rich as an aristocrat! Earlier when I started to feel better, Spencer had jumped ahead of me heading to the Bar while I picked up a few items from the store. I had someone say to me, with that most excellent seasoning, an Italian accent, “What is it like…walking around the world with your son, being a world traveler?”

     That stopped me in my tracks. I thought to myself, “Wow, he is not describing the Terri I think of myself as being.”

     The Terri I know is intimately familiar with the menu at Oakdale, California’s Kentucky Fried Chicken, loves the seafood buffet in Santa Cruz and forgot to brush her hair after boogie boarding at the Boardwalk almost every summer afternoon last year. I am the person who delighted in $5 oversized tank tops from Walmart in Sonora to take on this trip. The Terri I have always been is more of a homebody who obsesses over scholarly pursuits.

     I laughed and told him that I think of myself as a “boring housewife,” and probably more than one person who really knows me realizes that is closer to the truth. But it sure was nice to look around and realize his version of me, this exotic creature roaming around like a vagabond through Europe, talking about English relatives that I wished were here...and children and family back home in California, might be a part of the truth now too.

     I was living out all of my wildest dreams and perhaps I am someone different from the me who left San Francisco, trusting my fidenzata to watch my dogs and home until I returned.  

     At around nine at night, a half hour past my traditional bedtime but at the beginning of dinner time for most Italians, I was ready to go but Spencer was still socializing.  I had now settled next to a large table of people as I wrote snippets of the conversation that I could pick apart later for more meaning.

     The conversation seemed to die and I looked up to find the table of people, who turned out to be my age, watching me. I must have turned a bright shade of red.

     There was a merry look in the eye of Carlo who asked me to join them. I tried to seem like the exotic creature that I had been accused of being earlier but I am sure I appeared to be myself, a bookish, but happy person lost in the language of Italy.

     They were all such nice people. Carlo promised to sing a song for me about my eyes. He later did. I promised myself to buy the song when I get home caled “Occhi Del Cielo.” He sang 3 songs and looked at me the whole time.  You have to love the confidence of all the Italians but Italian men seem to carry it to new heights. They seem to do a good job since they collectively don’t seem to come across as arrogant but truly affable and friendly instead.

     As the night unraveled I enjoyed songs being written out on the screen, word for word, for the benefit of both the singer and myself. This was better then my notes! This was an Italian student’s dream scenario. It was a whole new crowd than usual here tonight and they sang in English very well. I heard “New York, New York” belted out to perfection. I couldn’t help singing along with every word when Howard Jones’ song, “Wouldn’t It Be Good To Be In Your Shoes?” popped on the screen. My sister and I loved the song and every bit of singing it seemed to draw me back home to a time in the 80’s that we sang it with more fervor then we ever would now. I was in the car with Christine before we had children, long ago.

     I felt warm and happy inside.

     Francesca has been watching me pour over details in Italian language, and she knew exactly what I needed. I really needed a night of Karaoke at the Bar here in Italy. I made a mental note to listen to her and just do what she says from now on.

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