My Life in a Blender: Day 11

It's 8:00am, and I just got 12 hours of sleep. I flopped into bed around 6 or 7 in the afternoon, thinking a short nap was in order, but 10pm was the time of my first waking breath. We picked up Ian and Allison at the train station, after which we returned to the Poggio and sent them off to bed. The day was so short, hardly anything from which to need relaxation. However, there must be some reason why I continue to sleep so intently. My dreams are grand, memorable, and completely transparent here. Every night, I relive a blending of all my different educational backgrounds. I receive awards that I'm too unprepared to accept. I'm somewhat left out of the celebratory activities after the year is done. Those whom I feel I've escaped from return to my subconscious to make me sort out the feelings I would rather repress. It all just makes me think this is a truly monumental transition that I have yet to actualize.

I am no longer in competition with grade school comrades, nor do I have to deal with those who manipulate me. There are so many places now where I feel out of place even though I tried my very best to be an honest and upstanding member of each circle. Am I an escape artist? I ran out of Wabash without a thought, left college the moment I got my diploma. That lingering feeling feels like a waste to me, but obviously a part of me understands it's essential to my mental stability. I dealt with all my recent "ailments" with the understanding that in a few months/days/hours I wouldn't have to deal with it. When your brain shuts down like that, it's difficult to decide whether some things are worth attempting to salvage.

Now is the time I've allotted myself to spend digging into my own desires and potential. I'm encouraged also by others to utilized this time of discovery and not factor in the pull home. I'm told to be a little selfish, but others are sure to let me feel the guilt. Am I overly sensitive or undecisive? And at the end of this phase, will I be enlightened by what I see and who I meet, or will I be struck by my own privilege of having the ability to wander?

What is my life supposed to be all about? Smaller and simpler, familiar and pre-existing is one compelling choice supported by so many. But I hear a voice that leads me to experience a scary world and become something I may not be strong enough to be. I must think my entire development should be accurately preserved in order to publish and broadcast when I self-actualize, but is this the thought of a self-centered ego or a prediction of unforeseeable things to come? As my idol, Jerri Blank, would say..."Guess we'll never know."

The big decisions keep on coming. Do I take up the Burgassis on their offer of a home for my childcare services? Do I promise them my 2009 in exchange for a beautiful arena for careers and a fulfilled life? I guess I assumed going into this I would have time after the journey to sort it all out and choose then from a bottomless list of life options. Now, even before I leave Europe, I am to decide if Florence is my choice.

I see 7am in rural Tuscany as a great ambiance for these sort of questions, a fog putting to rest all its workers and casting da Vinci's perfect atmospheric perspective. Maybe tomorrow, I will arise after only 8 hours of rest to the painted abyss and feel a real air with solid answers.

Sloppy Giovanni: Day 09

My lunch of a slurp-worthy tomato, aged parmigiana, and foccacia bread caused me to make the most unattractive and satisfied noises. With each bite of the magical combo, I licked six fingers clean. An occasional sip of frizzante water washed it down with excitement. Lying in the sun, my book on Tuscany makes me think less about my present location and more about my age and what I aim to milk from this experience. What is my idea of the sweet life? Mine is passion: for friendships, the air, the food, the wine, the sweets, the meals made by hand, the time spent thinking, walking without destinations or time tables, the language, writing, and more. My sweet life also brings me to a yogic-like state of self-awareness in the present: by the wind, moving water, the flicker of light, a taste, a smell, an internal understanding of my own being.

At a moment of rest, I feel my body shake as though I am seconds before going on stage. So much to be actualized and all the magic I envision, I beg to come true, if only to set my mind free and establish this city and country as my Mecca.

Old Stompin' Grounds: Day 08

What thrills me today? The cool, green smell of rain blowing through every Tuscan vineyard and smokehouse, past our patio. Florence summoned us this morning to relive my past and satiate Dad's architectural curiosities. Everything was exactly as it had been, give or take a few minor changes to my favorite panini joint. Today was not about the points of interest and getting our fill of each but creating a wish list: picnic and drawing in the Boboli gardens, catch an early bus into town to hike up the Duomo's cupola, sunset at the Piazzale Michelangelo, spots of interest Allison would enjoy, and discotecas for the occasional late night. The sky was a little dreary for my reimmersion into Florence, but the clouds, questionable smells and ballsy Florentine men enveloped me with a feeling most New Yorkers must experience with the subways, car exhaust, and public urination of their beloved city.

Today we bought every type of wine in Tuscany from a sweet old man that has run my old wine stop for the last 50 years. He had a darling smile, sour breath, and a true desire to treet us sweetly. He doesn't live to work, but if he has to, he makes it an opportunity to make dear acquaintances.

The rain now coats every visible hillside with a thin slick that just barely gives the dry but hearty soil a satisfying gulp. Just enough wind to turn a page of an idle book or brush the hair back. Enough to send the parents inside and leaving me with the slow and natural arrival of spring. A one hundred year old olive tree that sits next to me has a single twig fluttering under the light stream of the rain gutter, and since this house and that tree haven't moved for a century, it appears I am watching a tiny moment of perpetual history in this little Tuscan town.

It seems quite evident that the Italian mind is primally connected to the nature that surrounds it, and this union makes me long for the understanding to feel what I sense, the highest regard for passion and the present - two words I hope will characterize this journey of mine.

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!