Monday, October 12, 2009

always raspberry

I love being by myself. I'm compulsively social, but time alone energizes me and gives me some of my most memorable, creative, and peaceful moments.

One of the best alone days I've ever had, one that I will always vividly remember, was one early October day in Florence, Italy.

We arrived in the city as I was listening for the first time to John Mayer's Heavier Things album, which is still probably my favorite of his. The bus pulled up and it was lightly raining outside and I was charmed by our hotel by the river. It was maybe two days later that I got the chance to wander the city alone for a day that turned into an evening.

I was happy to be on the trip, with my friends, in Italy... but the dull ache of missing my boyfriend would often persist when I was alone, more than at other times. That day I didn't feel the ache, I slowed my usual fast pace to a saunter along the cobbled roads and delighted in the moment, in the sensations surrounding me, in my own solitude amidst a pulsating artsy breathtaking town. I went to the outdoor market and picked out silk scarves for my mom. I passed through quiet alleys and ended up in an old jewelry store, talking to the old owner who told me stories of all the famous people that had entered his doorway and touched his necklaces and rings. For a little while I sat in a cafe across the square from the Duomo Cathedral and was spellbound by the most phenomenal peoplewatching I'd ever encountered. I took a hike up to the Piazza Michelangelo and at the top bought two flavors of gelato, raspberry and lemon, a refreshing reward for all those stairs climbed. I walked down and walked along the Arno River, admiring the painters' canvases spread with flourishes of color as they stood and did their best to express the scene as they saw it from their easels. The sun set, I crossed the Ponte Vecchio bridge, and came upon a little handmade pizza eatery. It had mostly outdoor seating, was pretty empty, and looked like exactly the right place to sit down, eat, and write some postcards. So I did. And the most vivid part of the memory of this day is the sensational prosciutto and artichoke pizza I had there. It was just the right size, the crust was crispy and thin but not too thin, and the flavors were fresh and aggressive and amazing. I wrote family and friends postcards, truthfully telling them that I was having one of the best moments of my life in a little Florentine restaurant on a warm October night.

Then I walked home and on the way, got gelato again, raspberry and chocolate this time.

And after such a memorable and refreshing day alone, I was so happy to arrive back at the hotel, to a room full of the silver laughter of all the fun girls on the trip, and compare notes about our day in Italy and just how much gelato we'd each had, and how much more we planned to.

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