there is the florence of the past, and the florence of the present, and the florence of the future. or maybe the rome of the future. we don't know yet. but one thing we suspect more and more each day. it is not the art that brought me back here, or what makes me happiest. it is not even the wine. it is NOT EVEN, all the boys, or all their compliments (which, i will admit, seem to be slightly fewer and further between, this time around).
i think, really, that it is the language. i love speaking this language. my second saturday here i met up with a friend i'd made from the last time i was in florence. spent the afternoon with her boyfriend (and all his friends) while she finished up work (because this place is the kind of place where a ragazza's boyfriend will share his saturday afternoon merenda, and his buddies, with some girl from new york city that his girlfriend hung out with long before he even knew her). and i must have spoken (or stumbled through) italian for all of six hours. and it felt wonderful. it did not feel natural, because it is nowhere near natural for me yet. but it felt wonderful.
in case any of you are wondering (and i'm sure some of you are), i have not fallen in love yet. at least, not with a person. i have only just begun to fall back in love with florence. it has taken me some time, and is proving to be a slow process, mostly because i am so stressed and preoccupied with the issues surrounding my ability to stay here (job, money, workpermit, workvisa, etc.) -- that i am hardly ever actually "in the moment". also i seem to get less free wine than i used to. ;o) i have not even been writing that much, and am finding it difficult during the week to do anything besides my italian homework and the requisite amount of worrying.
i went on my first motorino ride several weeks ago; crossed the arno at dusk, when all of florence is drenched in blue light.
i have gotten back in touch with old friends, and made new ones too. so my weekends are full and there seems to be enough social potential to keep me sane. there are so many americans here on the same road as i -- all of us at different points on it. it is nice to know i'm not the only pazza who upturned her whole life to be in this place.
anyway. enough abstractness. what am i doing, where the hell am i staying, and How Does It All Feel...
so i got here on sunday, april 27th 2003. "here" being florence, italy. the first week, i stayed with my friend federiga. the second and third weeks, i started working properly for federiga's boyfriend giulio, who owns a couple of small businesses here in florence and one of those rambling old tuscan villas on the outskirts of the city that his family has turned into a quaint hotel / guesthouse. in return for my work on all the technology initiatives i was going to help him with (websites, databases, etc.) giulio gave me a room in the aforementioned rambling old tuscan villa on the outskirts of the city.
it's a long story, but things didn't work out. quite definitively. and so a little over a week ago i found myself jobless and homeless and minus federiga and giulio. it was definitely the right choice given the alternatives presented to me (all i'll say is that i know people here who pay the women who iron their clothes 6 euros an hour. and that 1.25 euros an hour to build technology solutions just didn't seem to cut it...) -- but it did not, unfortunately, turn out to be a completely amicable extrication, and it was not fun to be homeless and jobless and to have wasted two weeks of precious student visa time here.
i am now no longer homeless (and actually, thanks to some of the amazing people i have been lucky enough to find here, was never in any real danger of sleeping out on the street). but i am still extremely jobless.
i have been listing every possible avenue for job opportunities here, and am already careening down a lot of those different avenues (some faster than others, some more encouraging -- or at least "less discouraging" -- than others, and so on). i made my first reconnaisance mission to rome, and made an admirable contribution to the Shredded Resume Reserve there. i got onto NYU's Alumni web site and downloaded the names and email addresses of every NYU graduate within the last fifteen years who's current business address is in Italy, and have started hitting them up for some leads. i have gotten to know oh-so-well my copy of the "English Yellow Pages for Italy", and have marked up all the mailing addresses for anyone and everyone that may remotely be interested in hearing how smart i am.
and so on.
there is lots to do, and it will all likely go very slowly, and there is not too much time. but the thing that becomes clearer and clearer every day, is that i want to be here, and that i was right to come, and that it was not my imagination or some crazy buildup of chianti sulphates affecting my judgement for the last four years. i was right -- i want to live here.
other random pieces of information:
i went to my first job fair on saturday the 17th of may. it is amazing how similar an italian jobfair is to an american one.
i have started learning how to ride a bicycle. i say "started" because after a sweltering, curse-filled morning of starts and stops and wobbles and sweat and battered shins, i still can't actually *ride* one yet. but we are closer, much, much closer. :o)
after four days in rome, i have decided that they need to stop with all the macdonalds outlets there. there are far too many.
also from my trip to rome, i am now the proud bearer of a vespa-burn-scar on the inside of my right ankle, where i put my foot too close to the engine while getting off. it's a tiny circle with an almost-perfect cross left unburned in the center -- which i think is extremely cool being that i'm a muslim and that this is my little "souvenir" from the Holy See. i am hoping it stays. it will make for a lifetime of great conversation-starters. and it's cheaper than a tattoo.
and lastly, my italian rocks. i feel like in all of this job and visa and budget frustration, there is this one thing that i actually have considerable control over, and even though i do not give it as much formal time as i should, i still manage to kick ass at it. i can talk, i can flirt, i can SMS on my cellphone -- i can *live* in this language, and i love every minute of it. i can even make jokes in italian. they may not be really good ones, but then anyone who knows me should know that that probably has nothing to do with the language... :o)
ciao everyone. hope you're all safe and well and happy.
[Campi Bisenzio, Firenze]
[mercoledi 4 giugno 2003 ore 21:10:06] [¶]