Thursday, August 9, 2012

The company of visitors from near and far—and pushing me at least three kilometres out of my comfort zone


Not for a moment did I ever take for granted the visits I received in Toronto this past year while I completed my Master’s. From August 2011 to September 2012—under twelve months—I received twelve separate visits from friends and family. I had two room-mates, as you may recall, but being graced by the very special company of loved ones from home was, well, entirely special.

Needless to say, Montreal-Toronto visits are easy and cheap to complete, since these Canadian cities are only five hours apart by car or bus, four by train, and one by plane. Montreal and Labro, by contrast, are separated by six time zones and eight hours on an airplane. Naturally, the likelihood of receiving visits is slim to nonexistent…

Nevertheless, in the past month, I have spent time in Rome with Alex and Ally, my cousin and his girlfriend, now my Veggie Soulmate and grad school partner in crime; my paternal cousins and great uncles, in Prossedi, Latina; E. and her husband, whose wedding I just attended; Madame @Acquafortis herself, who trekked to Labro with G. just to spend an hour or two with yours truly (and humbly). Most recently, I received word of my dear friend, Vanessa, planning to visit at the beginning of Autumn. Woo!

stylistic pause — Jeez. For a positive blog post, I sure have a knack at starting each paragraph with a negative adverb or adjective… There’s a literary term for that—for the method of stating a negative fact in order to underline its opposite. There is only so much information that one call recall from a year-long Master’s degree, but I’ll be back…

I am amused by and grateful for the timing of these visits, as they didn’t occur before or during the intense and trying period of the final week of June and first week of July; rather, they gracefully and most welcomingly took place in the weeks following that difficult time, as though something in the Universe thought, “Hey, look. Shit was lookin’ shitty. How’s about some familiar and familial faces, eh?” Living in my current space, love is never lacking, but to behold the tanned face of my little cousin (so he’s only nine months younger than I. Whatever. He’s still my little cousin) and my Veggie Soulmate in Roma Termini train station was almost too much to handle. What a gift; what a joy; what a blessing. What made this reunion extra special and emotional was that the three of us had visited Rome together in May 2010.

I had had a banana... and an apple... and some cookies for breakfast over the span of three hours (6 a.m. to 9 a.m.), but when hunger strikes at the train station, rosemary focaccia is the vegan's best and tastiest bet.
Reunion at the Spanish Steps <3 p="p">
When in Rome (haaaaa), I usually have cicoria for an entrée; here, in cicoria's absence, I opted for fries. Meh!
This crust was definitely too thick to be considered a typical Italian pizza north of Naples, but I won't say that the thick, fluffy crust was unwelcome. Also, I ate 90% of this pizza. Hey, it's not my fault that the waiter took forever to remove it from my face!
A sculpture in the piazza in Prossedi
The piazza in Prossedi. As you can tell, the architecture is old, so construction's overdue. It's unfortunate, however, that it should be taking place in the summer, when visitors and citizens alike would like to use the piazza.
A selection of picturesque and quaint views...



Me and a newspaper



The most recent visit, a delightful afternoon with @Acquafortis on Saturday, was followed by a Sunday workday. It was unusual to have such a schedule, as Sunday is our day off; in order to accommodate performances by some of the artists at a local medieval festival, Giornate Medioevali, the rest days were shifted. What was most unusual, however, was my participation in the rehearsal of a performance piece.

In case I haven’t fully explained my role here, other than touting the title “Language Artist” rather clumsily, allow me to clarify: I have joyfully embarked on this six-month journey and employment at Art Monastery Italia to serve as the resident Italian expert, doing everything from translating promotional material, interpreting at the grocery store, and making telephone calls; to serve as the assistant to the Executive Director, completing a variety of tasks related to the daily functioning of this organization; to serve as a community member. It has been a delightful and welcome surprise to be included in the development of the original theatre piece that Liz and the cast have put together, Ad Mortem: I have translated several pieces of text for the show.

What I didn’t expect (rule number 1... of life: have no expectations or, if you have them, expect them to be blasted aside) was to take part physically in some of the artistic performances—and I had the following day’s soreness to attest to how physical it was (or maybe my reinstating my pushups-and-situps routine the day prior played a bit of a role). Allow me to illustrate: the artists have been invited to perform the opening piece for the enogastronomic (that is, wine-and-food–related) artistic festival, Calici sotto le stelle (“wine glasses/goblets under the stars”), in Labro. It is a yearly summer celebration that takes place almost every night for a full month; this year, it began on July 21 and will end on August 25. On each night, for only €25, the gastronomic masterminds behind local legend Boccondivino (the name of the restaurant can be translated as "divine mouthful." I can't help but smile when I ponder this) offer artfully paired wine with delectable dishes, all in the open air atop Labro’s picturesque torrione, surrounded by music and artistic performances.

To open the event on each of these summer evenings, a fifteen-minute artistic performance takes place. And this is where we (and my soreness) come in. From eleven until approximately five p.m., we worked with one half of Boccondivino’s two founders; she directed us, instructed us, moved our limbs, congratulated us, corrected us, and fed us over the course of the day. As you may know, my artistry is restricted to writing, and, even then, I seldom write creative works. I will unashamedly declare that I cannot dance and, thus, do not pretend that I can. Shakira pronounced it correctly: “hips don’t lie,” and mine are surely no exception; when they are prompted to move on a dance floor, my hips loudly declare that they were not built to sway that way. Maybe this is why I took to rock shows at such a young age: no dancing required—just jumping! That’s my kinda atmosphere.

I digress. However, without revealing the opening of the festival, of which I have been a part for the festival’s entire duration, I will tell you that I mounted a cart, was carried downhill by it, was carried by a friend of mine, pulled said cart, and ate a lot of cherry tomatoes. And then I walk home, sometimes after sampling the wine and each course of the meal and ogling the dreamy waiters.

Just another day on the job…

Pleasantly out of her comfort zone and relishing the mistakes she's making,

Vegan in Suburbia

1 comment:

Josiane said...

With all the wonderful stories you tell and all the fabulous (and often mouth-watering) pictures you show, it is indeed very tempting to hop on a plane and pay you a visit, my dear! Glad you had the opportunity to spend some time with some of your loved ones.