Arno River, Firenze, Italia

Arno River, Firenze, Italia

Monday, September 27, 2010

There's something about Mondays.

It’s a Monday.  And I keep forgetting.

This morning, I rolled up my boyfriend jeans and slipped on my TOMs, my ipod charged, ready for the forty-five minute to class.  And then I looked outside—dark clouds, hanging so low they crowded the terracotta roof above the Tabacchi across the street.  Another grey and gloomy day.

Living in Seattle has given me a sixth sense.  Not necessarily to forecast bad weather, but to at least have the intelligence to take the proper gear.  In a last minute scramble, I dressed for the dreaded precipitation—RAIN. 

Cuffed jeans.  Check.  (Wet pant cuffs are the worst.)  Shoes I don’t care about. Check.  Raincoat AND umbrella.  Double check.  (Pays to be extra prepared.)

And now it’s one of those days, with an eerie and reminiscent taste of Seattle.  Raincoat on, messenger bag slung to one side, ipod in one ear.  Ray LaMontage starts to play. 

For some reason the mellow acoustic sound doesn’t mix well with the traffic noises and low murmur of voices.  But it’s a contradiction that gives me this unreal sense of surrealism.  Colors fade, everything is a bit washed out by the morning light and the reflection of the clouded sun on rainwater puddles. 
I put the other headphone in, and the world is completely silenced.

It’s with music like this---my pace slows as though I have nowhere to be.  I wait until the light turns green before crossing streets.  I fall in step with the elderly walking their grandchildren to school (this is the sweetest part about the culture here).  My heart rate is slow, my hands relaxed at my side.  And the clock is frozen. 

I passed a man with rolled up jeans like mine.  Except his reached mid-calf, and revealed pink and purpled striped socks.  He walked with a bit of a swagger, and pulled off his style with pride, as if intent on starting a new trend.  It was worth a smile.   

And then mid-walk, I stopped suddenly.  Along with the gloomy weather, I felt a moment of panic.  I was so distracted by the music and mood of the day that I had lost track of my route.  Am I heading the right direction?  I looked up at the street sign, gathering my whereabouts.  Via dei Servi.  Nope.  Right direction.  Mondays are always a shock back to reality.

At one point, I decided it was lunchtime.  As I pulled out my sandwich (turkey, provolone, lettuce, and tomato on whole wheat), I watched in horror as my prized cookie fell to the ground.   

Do ten second rules apply to the cobblestone streets of Florence?

I don’t feel like admitting if I ate my cookie or not.  But let’s put it this way:

It was my only cookie.

I’ve eaten worse. (?) Scorpion in China might count, I guess.

It’s kind of like a free immune system boost.

And it fell on a fairly “clean” cobblestone.  No puddle or trash cushioned its land. 

So you can draw your own conclusion.

As soon as class began, the rain came with full force.  We moved from one covered building to another, drawing twenty-minute sketches at each.

While sitting at Palazzi Strozzi, I had the prickly feeling of being watched.  An older gentleman sat behind me, learning forward, his elbows on his knees, peering over my shoulder in interest.  And when I turned towards him, he didn’t hide his invasive observation, but looked me straight in the eyes before continuing to gaze at my sketchbook in expectant interest, as though I had brought a rude halt to “his” entertainment.  I quickly braced myself to ignore the curiosity of the tourists.

And then a woman walked directly in front of me, her face inches from my own, personal space shattered and successfully blocking my view of “The Rape of the Sabine Woman,” the focus of my sculpture sketch.  She stared at my drawing, then peered around in interest at the sculptures.  And then her curious expression degraded to one of sheer perplexion.  No, I was not drawing from my imagination.  I made an exaggerated motion of leaning to the side to look behind her.  And naturally, she followed suit.  A moment of understanding passed over her face.  She looked at the sketch; she looked behind her; she gazed at the sketch again.  But she didn’t move.  I waited patiently.  Set down my pencil.  Folded my arms.  The message was silent, but loud, and insistently polite (I hope).  And instantly, my view was clear again.  Lesson learned:  Body language supersedes the spoken tongue.

Even though it bursts at the seams with high levels of curiosity, Palazzi Strozzi is a beautiful place to sit and draw.  Classical guitarists and musicians play on the corner.  The tourists stare up at David in awe, surprising silent.  I wonder how many know that they are gazing at a copy of the original?  Yes, Michelangelo’s David used to stand there, but to preserve it from the elements, they rigged a set of a tracks that weaved through the city, rolling in into the Accademia, its current home. 

And David, the real one, is still on my list to see.

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