Jimminy Crickets, it’s been a while since I’ve written. But I’ve got a story for you, sort of . . . a spur of the moment decision story of going to Italy. Here’s how it happened:
Later in the month, Zsolt and I will be taking a train ride (a damn long train ride) to Prague to meet with friends and have fun. But we had the idea that Zsolt’s parents, Anna and Laszlo, could come along with us a couple days earlier and explore the city. Zsolt’s parents don’t speak English, so it limits their ability to travel. (Also, Anna gets really nervous when going to new places. She reads every single bit of travel information available, memorizes words from the dictionary, makes lists of translations . . . and then still gets completely lost whenever we arrive in town.)
Anyhow, while they wanted to go on a trip with us, they really didn’t want to go to Prague. This is so weird. My cousin told me it’s one of his favourite cities in Europe. He said, “You have to go to Prague.” I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews for this city. But Zsolt’s parents don’t want to go. And actually, Zsolt’s not so bothered either. Apparently it’s less charming because it’s Eastern European . . . less exotic for them, less alluring . . . also, Zsolt says it is a tiny city and there’s not much to do.
But it’s PRAGUE! It’s beautiful. What else does one need?
Anyhow, they suggested we go somewhere else. So there we are at the kitchen table, sitting around the plates of cheese, kolbasz (salami-like but better), peppers and bread, wondering were we could go. I suggested we just go up to Budapest and enjoy the baths and very inexpensive opera. But then somehow the conversation wound it’s way to other places . . . places that would take hours and hours by car, which then led to “Why don’t we fly somewhere?” But where? “Italy!” Which is when Zsolt’s dad become very, very excited – saying he’d do anything to go to Italy. I might not understand everything they say, but I know Laszlo is excited when he starts speaking really, really fast and then jumps up from his chair – runs out the room – and calls back to us that he’d “do anything to go to Italy!” (I can’t remember why he left the room. Let’s just leave that hanging.)
So, of course we look up flights and Ryan Air is having a sale. Maybe people in North America don’t know about Ryan Air. I’ve always been a bit suspicious of them, since their prices are so stupidly low . . . they are the lowest of low cost airlines in Europe. I think the owner once proposed to have people standing up on flights . . . it didn’t pass of course, but that just gives you an idea of how cheap they are.
Right. Anyhow, Ryan Air had a stupidly low price on flights to Pisa. And wham, bam, thank you ma’am, we are booked and flying to Florence! One second we’re at the kitchen table eating kobasz, the next we’re on the plane flying to Italy. Crazy!
It was an extremely fast trip. We arrived in Pisa, took a train to Florence, spent a day and a half in Florence, took the train back to Pisa, went up the leaning tower (where I had vertigo . . . it felt like there wasn’t enough room, and I was going to fall over, and nothing was safe. Mind you, every other person up there seemed just fine. That’s me in the picture trying not to have a breakdown, and displaying my conditioning to ‘always smile for the camera’), walked through a very exciting market where I bought a tiny (and wonderfully cheap) piece of art that I think will look fantastic alongside my other bits of art, grabbed the return plane and flew home.
Knackering! But also, a real privilege. It is such a privilege to see the world, to enjoy other cultures, to hear stories from Italian women about the sons who married English girls and now live in Scotland, to walk these ancient roads, to see masterpieces first-hand, to eat gelato non-stop, to explore . . . it was lovely, and it was a privilege.
So that’s the story of that. And there will be more travelling to come. I’ve been trying to fit in my work between flights, trains and car rides, and I have to say it’s great to be flexible in online engagement and ghost-blogging, and assistance giving. I love that I can live anywhere and still have a working life. That’s quite the privilege too. The hard part is that my computer screen totally died. This is the third time ACER COMPUTERS (if you are reading this post), and while I love the speed and convenience of my laptop . . . staring at a black screen makes it rather difficult to work. But it’s all being managed. Once back in Canada I’ll replace the screen.
On a side note, my drawing pad also died. I’m not sure if it just needs a new battery . . but time will tell.
So all of this wonderfulness was experienced this past weekend, and I’m very grateful.Then last Monday in the night I read about Boston and the bombings. And I have to ask, how does any of it make sense? How? This world is a gift. I’ve seen people be saints and savours to one another. Working in the online community of support, I’ve seen strangers comfort strangers, and compassion shared freely. Walking through the amazing streets of Europe, I think of all the beauty that’s been poured in here . . . and then at the same time, the wars, the holocaust, the massacres. . . I think of the goodness and the evil. And I don’t know what to say.
All I know – right down deep inside me – is that people want to be good, and people can always be better. The bombings were heartbreaking, and my thoughts are going out to the city of Boston. I know within that madness people were proving just how good they could be. But it still breaks my heart to hear of the hateful things.I just don’t know what to say.
I’m glad for what I’ve been given in life. And I hope that kindness, art, exploration, openness and compassion win-out over that dirty and destructive word, ‘hate’.
And that is the end of this post!