Two years ago, I met Evan Handler in this same piazza on the last night of my program. In that year of 2006, I held these locals so close to my appreciation of the city, with their bongos, drunken singing and lovable (by-night) resident homeless men. Yes, that year I watched the first World Cup matches with the Florentine public, sitting on the same dirty stones I am sitting on now. And today I was drawn here by familiarity and love; it's an unfortunate certainty that no one here will talk to me. I have no fear of making conversation with anyone besides the occasional drug dealer or Albanian posing as an Italian stallion. I see through all their games.
Much of this experience was aimed at stripping me bare of what comforts me: proximity to those I know, companions of any kind, plans, money, and expectations. The test was whether I could build something from nothing that was all my own doing, the active efforts and lucky chances accumulating into what makes a human being happy. How much of your life do you lean on nepotism, other people's earnings, easy but unfit relationships, and things you don't even like? And when you deprive yourself of everything you're used to, don't those overlooked facts of your life become surprisingly questioned. I've been confused and torn for life, unknowingly, and only aware of this fun, barely tolerable predicament for a few years now. I just saw the dog from a photograph I took in 2006. Time, you are one bag of tricks.
Via Blackberry, I know that afternoon is in full swing in the Western hemisphere, and my family is working and walking and selling cars. My dark blue sky showcases looming clouds the color of dry blood. Home, to me, seems tailored and young. Florence has deep wrinkles where plagues, prostitutes, wars, families, fanatics, and geniuses have and still leave their marks. The majority of the bulk in my little borrowed purse makes up the 750 pages of Michelangelo's biography, in which I read that his knowledgeable concept of the human form came from his illegal night dissections in the monastery dead room of Santo Spirito, the building that now lies to my left. He washed his body of the stale and caked bodily fluids and wretched innumerable times in this fountain to my right, where the previously mentioned dog is now bathing...and a Rasta is now washing his hands. Again...time...quit playing games with my mind, here!
I doubt I will ever feel more than a weathered stranger here, just as I do in my childhood town. I have abundant reserves of memories sprouting to the surface from each of the four optical images per second. But I'm still in the air, and I need blood, sweat, and tears to build a basement in this town.
Within a sniff and a face-off, two dogs unknown to each other can sense the extent of their compatibility. It would be helpful to meet a city in such fashion. One would know whether they were kidding themselves with fruitless efforts to make something in such a location or that all discomforts, mistakes, unwelcome sensations, dilemmas, and confused cries were making it possible to someday have the "cha-ching" of success. It's far more "journey-like" the way it is. Those who conquer such experiences are those who truly (and I can't help myself...) don't stop believin'.
My written monologues probably fail to have a unifying thought, start with a witty and interesting anecdote, relate to my true state of consciousness and so on, but I think, no matter what I write, I will feel so good holding onto this already tattered notebook, scribbled on and warped by my treasured reflections.
[Afterthought: After finishing this passage, I was approached by a kind local who found my journalling session charming. A half English, half Italian conversation ensued, followed by a reunion of an old friend in the panini business. It was a monumental step and a very pleasant evening.]