Aqueous Transmissions

Time to trade Lisa’s mountain bike for… Lisa! And when she’s back from tour, it always means one thing:

So first, the girls shared aperitivo with their buddy Loic on the church steps in Faenza, with cheese from the Modena hills and wine from Loic’s latest tour in France. I enjoy this photo because somehow Lisa made Loic look like a swimsuit model with too many clothes and me look like a CCR (Creedence Clearwater Revival) groupie. Meanwhile, Lisa looks lovely and excited to to see her eclectic subjects come together so well.IMG_0442Next stop(s), obviously, is/are our favorite bar/restaurant/beach/nightclub/obsession on in Marina Romea: Boca Barranca! Lisa’s amazing longtime friend Nico is along as well. There are refreshing dunks in the ocean, Spritz, the mouth-watering fried seafood plate we’ve eaten our weight in and the equally mouth-watering bartender… everything turns out to be just as good as we remembered :). IMG_0426DCIM101GOPRODCIM101GOPROThis time, the journeys perpetuate the watery theme. I take to calling us sorrellas (sisters) from other fellas because — per usual — we’re hooked at the hip.  Like thirsty camels, the sorrellas swap heat for aqueous dips at every opportunity. At this juncture, it seems fitting for me to be so near tenacious water. I appreciate water’s fluidity, its propensity to literally go with the flow, to be at home everywhere in the world.DCIM101GOPROWe soon find ourselves drawn, like a water droplet from a sponge, out of the penetrative heat in Faenza. We arrive in Crespino del Lamone via the train up the Lamone river valley (which, after cresting the Apenninni dumps out in Firenze). From there, it’s a blissful cruise down to our dipping spot of choice. The first is overrun by what New Girl‘s Schmidt would call “youths” (pronounced ewe-thz), predominantly the testosterone-fueled variety. The second, while still afloat in testosterone, boasts a couple of families and several tiered pools in which to disseminate the youths.DCIM101GOPROIn the swelter of Italian summer, I have discovered innumerous ways to whittle away a sweaty afternoon. The time spent dipping, napping, journaling and watching the youths cannonball off an abandoned building while the occasional train grumbled by overhead was precious. Precious because it was spent with Lisa, precious because it was a beautiful day and a fantastic time to be alive. Precious because both of us were fully present and wholly content doing a lot of nothing in particular.DCIM101GOPROBeing present is another gift from the Universe, stashed in my increasingly bountiful cornucopia of Neat New Tricks. It is not that I have ceased to feel angry or sad about how everything between Tyler and I turned out. No — I feel difficult emotions but I am unafraid to let them wash over me like the often murky, refreshing waters of the Adriatic. It absolutely acceptable to feel strongly because we are human — I am human. But I have learned better, more enriching ways to be, partially because I consciously live in the present moment, without (too much) lingering in the past or hoping for the future.

I’m realizing, it’s all about a comprehensive view of life — like Benjamin Hoff explains in The Tao of Pooh. I swear, every time I pick it up, there’s a little jewel of wisdom waiting for me to ponder its shiny facets. Hoff explains best what I’m getting at: our favorite moments in life often occur before a much-anticipated event. Like finally opening birthday presents, going on vacation or seeing someone especially cool after not seeing them for a couple of weeks… 😉 The moments between and before are the crusts of bread if you can’t wait to eat the soft inside — but without them, there’s not actually bread.DCIM101GOPROMy Italian buddy Igor and I were discussing life and such things at his house near Bagnacavallo whilst hanging laundry and nibbling bread and chocolate. It was before a particularly quirky and wonderful concert by Devendra Banhart on Monday night (I’ll wax lyrical upon this later). I said: I feel like I’m in my 20s again. Once again, I bask in the same natural spontaneity and joyousness — but with the brain, experience and self-awareness I have now. I feel lucky but it is far beyond luck. I’ve ceased to search for happiness, but it found me anyway as I suspect it does when life flows easily.

Let us return to the Lamone river where the The Tao of Pooh was again eerily appropriate. As the water rushed by, I pulled my tarnished bookmark and read:

“Say, Pooh, why aren’t you busy?” I asked.

“Because it’s a nice day,” said Pooh.

“Yes, but –”

“Why ruin it?” he said.

“But you could be doing something Important,” I said.

“I am,” said Pooh.

“Oh? Doing what?”

“Listening,” he said.

“Listening to what?”

“To the birds. And that squirrel over there.”

“What are they saying?” I asked.

“That it’s a nice day,” said Pooh.

“But you know that already,” I said.

“Yes, but it’s always good to hear that somebody else thinks so, too,” he replied.

I closed the book with a laugh, read the passage to Lisa (contemplating her second nap on the pale ledge above me) and we both turned back to our important nothings, listening to the birds, the squirrels and the youths now cannonballing off the waterfall.

And on the way back? Gelato! Duh!DCIM101GOPROBack in Faenza, Palio season was in full effect. For those of you who’ve dipped a toe in Italy, the word Palio may hasten forth images of titillating horse races in the medieval heart of Siena. Faenza holds its own version throughout July, a fully and ornately costumed affair between the different rioni (neighborhoods), each with their own colors and meeting places (which are boisterous and serve good, inexpensive food all month).DCIM101GOPRO The Palio starts with youth (ewe-th) flag tossing and horse races (which keep Sylva up into the wee hours of the night) and culminates at month’s end with the same song and dance for adults. Lisa and I popped out to watch with the parade to the final race with the rest of Faenza… And let me just say, anyone who knew me in my awkward years knows to say I was obsessed with medieval stuff (Nini? Kelly?) is putting it mildly. So I rather enjoyed the entire affair.


A day later, we marched ourselves and our bicycles up to the ridge of San Mamante, beloved by cyclists for its hilly spine and idyllic views. Also beloved by watery wenches such as ourselves, because ExperiencePlus! organized us all a lovely poolside aperitivoDCIM101GOPROAfter Lisa trudged off somewhat reluctantly to lead another tour with the infamous Enrico 🙂 I was left largely to my own devices. Nature put in its liquid two cents, too, cooling down scorching Faenza with much-needed rain:DCIM101GOPROEven with my sorella gone, I live a far cry from a solitary life — I have aperitivi, multiple dates in one week with my bike and actual humans (even with a guy I met on the train — you guessed it, more later). Or I travel solo, which I truly savor. Or I also linger about the castle like a friendly spirit, diligently working on my book (almost finished and ready to be sent off), this blog and corrections for the article (now finalized!) for the Italian magazine, Ossigeno.

And I have oh-so-much time to ponder. I can process how much my life has changed and absorb this delectable sense of freedom and adventure into my very bones, which were created, I believe, to absorb such things. And to celebrate them!DCIM101GOPROYou guessed it: The Tao of Pooh has something to say on this matter. Hoff unearthed a quote that’s so beautifully apt I’m going to quote Hoff quoting Lu Yu.

The clouds above us join and separate,

The breeze in the courtyard leaves and returns.

Life is like that, so why not relax?

Who can stop us from celebrating?

IMG_0410

And what could possibly say celebrate more than when your morning Nutella on wholegrain tigella (imported from the recent mountain bike trip) suddenly looks exactly like the country you’re so very happy to be celebrating in!??!!

So, to celebrate the celebration, I combed my fresh-out-of-bed hair and adventured. Sylvas adore a good adventure — even, and often especially, da sola (alone). I hopped aboard the same train Lisa and I rode for our river dip trip — surprisingly almost clean, not entirely packed — to Marradi. Marradi? Yes, the same spot the sorellas began their multi-day hike in the colder, windier, rainier days of late April. This time around, it was hotter than Beyonce’s sister Solange.DCIM101GOPROThe hike became an all day affair, especially after I missed the nonexistent train between 1440 and 1859. Unfortunately this meant missing hamburgerata with the neighbors (a bi-annual hamburger cook off with their friends), the same whose lovely daughter (and friend) I teach English to several times weekly. But it meant more time in the wide, wonderful outdoors where I always feel at home.DCIM101GOPROI found the forest, even in crowded Italy, largely devoid of other humans. I could hear them on distant dirt bikes and cars and early on, passed a group watching their buddy hang glide off an open hilltop. And evidence of humanity presented sporadically with a fence, a rickety shelter or scared sheep bolting down the path ahead of me, the bells around their necks ringing a frantic tune. Otherwise, it was just me, the birds, the squirrels, the breeze…DCIM101GOPRO… the trees and the ivy…DCIM101GOPRO… the old cobblestones on the road to Eremo di Gamogna (the hermitage of Gamogna)…DCIM101GOPRO… and quite possibly the best lunch spot around!DCIM101GOPROBy the time I arrived back in Faenza it was after 1930 and of course, I was ravenous, but tired and very sated after a long sojourn in The Nature.

There’s an Italian saying: Chi dorme non piglia pesci, or those who sleep don’t catch any fish. I may not have been in the business of catching fish (although some people might be able to argue that point… Lisa? 🙂 ) but recently I definitely was in the business of not sleeping… case in point why this clock…IMG_0552… says 0400 (4 a.m.). Yep — more on that next time. Ciao for now!

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