I’m thankful for grandma’s bloomers

Griante laundryThe Italian Grandma next door is hanging her bloomers on the laundry line, the clouds are preposterously beautiful in painting-perfect colors and curves, and I am delighted that I didn’t have to sleep in the street last night. It’s not that Griante, or Cadenabbia, or wherever the hell I am right now is all that cold, but it’s not real warm either. Especially last night, as I crossed Lake Como on the last ferry to get here. At that point, things looked grim.

“No no, sicuro that they will be closed.” The heart-throb ferryman told me, answering my question of whether I’d be able to collect the key to the apartment I’d rented. The wind got colder. He went back to his cigarette.

In case you hadn’t heard, Italian trains are occassionally late.

Milano CentraleSo by the time I finished work in Rome yesterday, arrived at Termini Train Station to find all the normal seats sold out until 23:00, bought my business class ticket and sat down opposite an immaculately dressed Italian businessman as surprised by my T-shirted presence as I was, and arrived in Milan, it was precisely on time to watch my connecting train (also delayed, but not by enough) pull out of the station without me. An hour daring anyone to pester me about taking pictures in a boring station. An hour through gorgeous countryside hiding behind Night. An hour and a half waiting for the last boat across the lake. Assuming it would be on time. My hotel was not answering their phone, leaving me with the prospect of arriving in a tiny sleeping town. Beauty beats in the Milan train stationElegant women with varying severities of plastic surgery and masochistic high heels kept asking me about our departure time, then I stood outside their idling cars on the chugging ferry, before arriving in Cadenabbia to learn that one of the open hotels could get me my key. I danced a sluggish jig, then listened to a heavily irate Scottish woman berate reception about the music outside being too loud (she had a point, and with that accent, I would have agreed to whatever she said). The battered receptionist gave me a breakneck blind turn ride two kilometers uphill, and explained that the ambulance at the hotel was for a tourist who’d been bumped by a slow motion vespa (I didn’t know those existed), was lightly bruised but demanded to go to the hospital, but refused to pay for a taxi and demanded an ambulance, but Italian ambulances have to notify the carabinieri, so the additional flashing lights had belonged to bored and annoyed Italian police (I definitely knew those existed).

Lake Como bedroomHe dropped me off at what I’d thought was a simple room on the edge of town, but turned out to be the uppermost floor of someone’s summer home/castle. I’d thought it was just advertising rhetoric. The sheets were even better than they’d claimed, though I might have said that about burlap. Long day. Only a Clif bar since lunch. I was tired.

But this morning, the one day off between my previous tour and my proximal, I woke to an awareness of the nearness of Beauty, physical and cultural, and Fun, personal and collective. I love this guide job, which kidnaps me from the domestic normalcy (including blogging) that I also love, and delivers me to an unpredictable world that I also fear. New challenges, new experiences, new gifts everywhere.

Like gratitude for not sleeping on the street*. This town. And grandma’s bloomers, drying in the Lombardian breeze. And I don’t even have to freeze. Molto buono.

*Okay, this one’s not new, but still.