Trying to escape the tourists in Rome, Amy and I spent Easter of 2007 in the glorious town, Massa Marittima.
When Amy and I went to Italy, our travels seemed to be full of trouble. My bags were stranded in Heathrow, making their way to Italy through Germany only to be locked in our hostel’s office, leaving me feeling overwhelmingly disgusting for four days. Subways closed early, buses were nearly missed, and trains were only flagged down after running the better part of a mile down the track. But when things go wrong whilst traveling, you are left with a great story to tell any poor soul willing to listen to your adventures.
I miss Massa Marittima around this time every spring…the little city in Tuscany Amy and I escaped to a few years ago. The cathedral in the center of the town with a boy who sang a haunting melody that seeped its way through the columns and the stones of the church and into my heart and soul and memory… The hotel on the edge of Massa’s mountain complete with grandchildren and Easter cakes and chocolate eggs as big as your head filled with toys and guaranteed to carry even the most gluttonous child through until summer… And the serenity of being in a town so far removed from both the hustle of Rome and the stress of everyday American life…
Every day on the way to school, I thank God for this life; for the opportunity to see the colors pop from the new blossoms coating the trees, for the sunshine, the giggles of the children in my class, and the little boy who picks flowers for me every day during recess. It’s the little things that make up our lives and the little things I am so grateful for when the big issues–graduating and finding a job, for example–seem so absolutely overwhelming.
I’ve been seeing quite a number of smart cars on the roads lately. What makes sense in the cramped streets of urban Italy looks completely out of place in suburban America.
I went to an Irish pub the other night with a friend of mine. I don’t know the name, but while we were driving, we were immediately drawn to the neon “Pub Open” sign. We scooted to the back of the restaurant towards the bar area and were welcomed with a small live Irish band and a barkeep who was old, kind, and infinitely knowledgeable. There were a few televisions around, so we caught a bit of the presidential debate. This debate was echoed by one between my friend and a gentleman sitting next to him at the bar.
The gentleman ended up complementing me, continuously asking if my friend and I were dating. We said “no, no” a few times and the stranger remarked that he could tell I was going to be my friend’s redeemer. I can be a lot of things: a confidante, a teammate, a makeshift tennis player…. Redeemer is not on that list.
At any rate, I reveled in the pub debates, the live music, and the constant stream of men and women who entered, drank, paid, and left. Knowing that this establishment exists almost makes my little corner of Virginia seem Euro-urban.
Maybe smart cars aren’t so out of place after all.