Au Pair

Arrivederci, Pipi: Day 21

Four hours after a late, post-clubbing bedtime, poor Garrett and Alexis were summoned to rise for Cinque Terre with my parents. A gorgeous four more hours later, Caro and I awoke, sparkling, to a room filled with golden light and wandered down to the pool. A hectic day of sunning and lounging was to begin. We floated, read, enjoyed Italian coffee, lunched for hours on the patio, and slept on our pool chairs, covered in towels, feeling the occasional trickle of rain on an exposed toe. Every activity was blanched with the warmth of satisfaction. The Burgassi family came during the afternoon to prepare the exterior of the villa for the next tenants. I took this opportunity to accept their offer for housing in July. I made an effort to delay my affirmation prior to this, thinking I was being responsible to think of all sides of the spectrum. They must have thought I was crazy not to consider this option as divine intervention. Caro and I spent the rest of our lazy afternoon inside, drinking wine and playing gin until the entire Burgassi family (Otto included) stuck their heads in the door "Brady Bunch-style" to say they were so excited I was coming to live with them. It was a moment for the scrapbook.

Around 9pm, I heard the four Cinque Terre goers approaching from outside, and immediately we became cooking machines for dinner. Oven on, pop in the rolls, chop every vegetable and meat product sitting around, open loads of beans and, well, what do we make with beans and chicken and cheese and veggies? Chicken surprise and garlic fritattas! And be sure to drink up the wine, so it all tastes somewhat edible! Genius ideas went hand in hand with dancing around the kitchen to Earth, Wind and Fire, loud enough to hear from the next hilltop town. It was a memorable last supper.

The next morning we squeezed five large pieces of luggage and five travelers into the car, all bound for Milano; the end resulting feeling being a universal one of stress and sleeping keisters. The city of Milan didn't meet my expectations coming in, as its ugly webbing of streets seemed to lack history, tradition, or that Italian charm. However, with only a few hours to spend in the fashion industry capital, our time was spent wonderfully with Alexis' childhood friend, Katie, who had been studying there for the past semester. She showed us a good time with cheap pizza, castles and parks, the Milan metro, the majestic Duomo and Galleria, our last gelatos, and revealed to us the perspective of an American in Milano. We returned to a hotel room with two sleeping parents and camped on the floor.

The next morning was quiet. Showers, packing, sitting, reading...we waited for time to arrive at 10:40am, when we left to board our train to Interlaken. The moment of embarkation was reminiscent of February 4th, 2007, the departure date for SAS S'07 - blubbering. 178 days until I reconnect with my family in Hawai'i. Until then, I think the Dead would agree: it's gonna be a long, strange trip.

A 'Cha-ching' Opportunity: Day 07

After a morning of reading the lyrical prose of the Tuscan countryside by Frances Mayes, I felt like my magic would come from cooking the best and freshest Italian meals of the season. But I experienced a moment of pure divine magic later on that made this expectation of good home cooking so miniscule in comparison. I feel somewhat compelled to explain the whole day in perfect detail, but I doubt I will really care in the long run about these pure moments that now fall completely into the background - like saving drowning moths during my first chilly swim or our big lunch of garlic frittatas and basil tortellini, surrounded by thunderstorms in the distance. No, I would rather focus my written attention to the wonderful coincidence of the day: the new job opportunity.

The patron's baby gets bored. I pick him up to bounce on my knee and prepare him for his midday meal. I get a job offer to be a live-in nanny for nine months. Sounds like a dream, no? The couple, that not only would house and feed me in exchange for child care but also encourage the start of my art career in Florence, also understands the need for travel and experience as a young adult. Is there a downside in sight? Millions of miles away among the dimmest stars? Even those distant gas balls are cheering for my Florentine nanny idea. Such a rare possibility in my mind before and now my most promising post-travel plan. The benefits of free room and board, possible local travel, beautiful surroundings in the best part of Florence, my favorite city on Earth, an awesome baby and equally great parents, free time for tutoring, learning, or just living - all amazing perks.

And to make it even more appealing for both sides, I can use July as a trial period to live this life with them and see if it works for all of us. How to make this decision...what a tough dilem--done!