- Know all of Google’s products/services? Today’s count: 71 – could be a good baby or bridal shower game!
- German-born Nigerian-Gipsy Ayo‘s Down on My Knees is very popular in my office right now.
When I saw Lex Culinaria’s post about Winemaker’s cake a few days ago, she took me back to a very vivid memory of a not particularly spectacular time in my life.
I had been in Italy and Milan for a only few weeks, and I was subletting an apartment from a friend of my cousin’s. It was August, hot, and very deserted. Most of the Italians and expats I had met through friends of friends when I first arrived were now gone for the summer. I didn’t mind the solitude since I am naturally adventurous, but I did mind that the city was empty and therefore no matter how many streets I wandered and shop windows I peered into, I wasn’t really learning much about the city.
An American friend of my apartment owner took pity on me and invited me over to her apartment for a drink one day. I sat on her balcony and looked at the spectacular view she had of Castello Sforzesco. There were few cars on the street and almost no one walking around, so it was strangely quiet for the center of Milan. I envied her apartment and its view, and her apparent self-sufficiency in a country that was not her own.
I, on the other hand, was nowhere near this self-sufficiency. My Italian was coming along, since the rate at which I subjected myself to ridicule was frequent, and I was trying every day. My trusty mini-dictionary went everywhere with me. But I had nothing else. No apartment, no job, no friends, no idea. Now that I arrived in Italy, what was I doing here?
She came out onto the balcony carrying a bowl of small, dark purple grapes and set them before me. I wasn’t a big fan of purple grapes, so spoiled and used to my green seedless grapes.
“You have to taste these.” The look on her face convinced me to give them a try.
I popped one into my mouth. The flavor that exploded in my mouth was obviously the inspiration for those grape-colored lollipops and juice that we had fought over as kids. I always thought it was a result of some citric acid and sugar mojo. I never really believed grapes tasted like this, just like I didn’t believe in raspberry being a bright blue. None of the grapes we had at my house had ever come close to this taste.
These were uva fragola, literally strawberry grapes, and only later would I find out they were simply Concord Grapes.
This memory is so vivid to me because their discovery represented something that was very important to me at the time. I didn’t know what I was doing in Italy, or that in a few weeks I would be moving to Rome to live in Trastevere, and in a few more weeks after that I’d meet S.
But it reminded me of the purpose of any adventure. To live, to experience and to learn. New experiences awaited me. Sometimes I would seek them out, sometimes they would come to me. And I would figure the rest of it out along the way.
nyc/caribbean ragazza says
I come up short when I try to explain to my non-traveling friends how I felt during my first trip to Rome in 2005. Your post eloquently sums it up.
What a great story! I think that people like you, that take life as it comes to them rather than plan, have a much better time in life. Sort of “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” type thing. What an inspiration!
It’s funny because I don’t consider myself that spontaneous…I love lists! I’m a big fan of the contingency plan and so this helps me take those leaps! :)
Shelley - At Home in Rome says
It is so comforting to hear others tell of that inevitable beginning period of “no friends, no job, no idea.” Once you get through it though, you’re never the same!
I just tried uva fragola for the first time the other day, after 5 years! I don’t know where it’s been hiding all this time…
I love that song by Ayo, but at the rate that it’s being played on RMC, I’ll probably get sick of it in a couple of weeks. ;-)
My italian is STILL coming along because we speak english in this house. Not that my husband wouldn’t mind conversing with in his native tongue, but with english he gets his point across to me much better. I get a kick when he uses american slang.
I’m looking forward to your garlic experiments!