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home in so many ways.  one left.

another day off.  another day of waiting angst.  i take bets with the different selves inside me about how long i will have to wait in line at the Questura d'Arezzo.  more bets about whether it will be raining.  i don't really care.  as long as they don't tell me i need something i haven't got, or cannot get.  i am no longer tired.  getting this visa at last, has replenished bucketfuls of tolerance.  but that doesn't mean i'm happy to have another ping-pong-ball shuntaround experience at the mercy of a bunch of Italian civil servants sporting fancy epaulets.

the other day we were at la Buccaccia, and the owner was chatting to us as usual, happy to have people in his restaurant with whom he didn't have to speak English.  he went on a bit about how i seem to know everyone in town, and how many years have i been living here now?  two?  three?

i did correct him, but it felt nice to have heard it anyway.  it felt a little like i used to feel about new york city -- that yes, this is my town.

at work, the two women at the alimentari know how i like my sandwiches, and mafalda knows i want a cafe macchiato when i walk in every morning, and her husband knows i like the artbooks that come with la Corriere della Sera every wednesday.  and the bank manager at Monte di Paschi di Siena referred to me today as "quella con i capelli scuri e i occhi scuri, scuri; che puo essere Siciliana, al meno meta, no?"

...that one with the dark hair and the dark, dark eyes who could be Sicilian -- at least half, no?

he calls me La Pakistana.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via San Benedetto, Cortona]
[giovedi 29 aprile 2004 ore 22:00:47] []


la Bucaccia has this one cd, they play, every night we are there.  but they make up for it, every night we are there, with free grappa.  or vin santo.

you know this land is special, when even the wine is referred to as sacred.

if you come to Cortona, come ask me where to have the best pickled onions; where to be that everyone else is not.  i know two places.  sometimes three.

i worry about this blog losing steam; about not having enough to write about.  this is why, i can never look at Lucignano and think that i would move there to "write my book".

i am reading a coffee-table-book on Picasso.  in Italian.  actually, to be fair, it is *two* coffee-table-books (they cost a euro-sixty each), on Picasso, in Italian.  one spans Picassso from 1881 to 1914, and the other 1915 to 1973.  makes me realize that i too, have lived through a century changing.  that if i ever eventually get to write anything that lives longer than i do, people might notice how the first two digits on the start and end of my lifespan, are different digits.  nineteen and twenty.  hm.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via San Benedetto, Cortona]
mercoledi 28 aprile 2004 ore 24:04:17] []

exactly one year.

since i transited through Paris Charles de Gaulle (yes, officer, i've flown in from Toronto.  no, officer, i do not have SARS).
since i landed at Florence airport, for the second time in my life.
since i dumped my bags at the now-infamous Federiga's house on Via Carducci and bought a gelato and walked to the Arno and thought to myself in the sunshine: i am here.
happy anniversary, italia.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via San Benedetto, Cortona]
[martedi 27 aprile 2004 ore 20:03:33] []

coming home.

they are showing the same inflight movies as they were on my flight into Canada.

that's when i realize, it hasn't been that long a trip at all.  i have been away from Italy all of twelve days.  i missed one sunday.  that's it.

at Vienna aiport, i find myself at Starbucks.  and i'm not even feeling treacherous for being here.  i have been flying for eight hours straight.  i have a seven-hour layover.  and then i am on another two-hour planeride.  and Starbucks, as always, has couches.

it's that simple.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Vienna International Airport, Vienna]
[sabato 24 aprile 2004 ore 18:28:12] []


only three days back on the North American continent, and it feels like far too long.  i love being with family.  love being nagged like i am twelve again, love accepting the personality tics of the people i love because i love them, love feeling Zainab's belly for the kicks of my soon-to-be-newborn-nephew.  i love being in any kind of place that i can call home, and this is one of them.  but, already and always i keep finding reasons not to want to live here again.

maybe this is some sort of defence mechanism every expat turns on when they return -- no matter how temporarily -- to a place renounced.  don't we all believe the wheres and the ways in which we live are the best for us?  wouldn't we eat crow before admitting we'd rather be somewhere (or someone) else?

the group of men next to me at the bar are discussing which is the biggest bomb they have ever seen drop on television.

i look across the bar to where the chef's counter is, for this wannabe Tuscan restaurant in downtown Toronto with nine-dollar-glasses of colli senesi chianti.  i am momentarily, considerably impressed to see a st. emilion, grand cru classe (1997!) woodbox sitting on one of the shelves under the counter.  momentarily, because i see right away, that it is being used to hold paper napkins.  argh.

Toronto's failing for me, at a completely personal, unfair and biased level, is that it is not new york city, and maybe also, that it is not Italy.  it tries to be so many things and so many places, and it gets so much of it right in terms of specifics: a really respectable performance arts scene, alternative, 'village-voicey' newspapers, an opera company, ballet, an important university and its academic community downtown, a kaleidoscope of immigrant cultures...

and yet, when you put all the parts together, they don't seem to add up to a real whole, or even to a bunch of real wholes, the way new york city is a bunch of real, ever-conflicting, ever-concerting, visceral, wholes.   east broadway and the smells of pork buns and Chinese fresh fish flopping around in leaky sidewalk tubs.  west broadway and that only SoHo-on-a-summer-sunday-afternoon feeling that comes from ambling along, inspecting the odd new street-artist, mosaic-mirror-maker or dumb d&g window design.  park slope in Brooklyn.  the cloisters and times square...  it's only if you've lived there, and you've seen and heard and smelt and felt all this that you can recognize it, and all the other stuff that makes *only* new york, new york.

the  thing is, it's fine by me that this city is not new york city.  the world doesn't need another new york city, i don't think.  but it does bother me that it tries so hard to believe that it is.  it drives me nuts when so many torontonians insist brightly that "it's just like New York, except that it's clean."  new york except clean?  to me, that sentence doesn't even make *sense*...

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Far Niente, downtown Toronto]
[venerdi 16 aprile 2004 ore 15:58:50] []