The rain is endless this time of year. Drops fall from the sky in a thousand mini suicides that echo throughout the Duomo Piazza into my living room window. Tourists are wet, buying umbrellas for two euro from the gypsy men outside selling them. I can never figure out how they make enough money to survive. They must be the only people in the city who count on rain, while the rest of us count on the sun. In a pedestrian city, nothing is calm or comfortable in bad weather.
The lulls of the rain, the near silence is shattered by voices in un natural volumes, and the CLACK, CLICK, CLACK of high, high heels pounding into the cobbestone as the tiny Italians on stilts make their way across the Piazza. How in the hell do they balance on those shoes, on those streets, and are they completely unaware that the puddles kissing their open toed heels contain the feces of a hundred different dogs, and humans? The beauty of Italy, with all of it’s charm, is so easily erased with the endless piles of shit.
I ask my boyfriend, “how is work” and he says, “good, but I have a lot to do, a lot of deadlines coming up”. He is perfect, aside from his jealous streak that I am almost positive could result in me being beat to death, or not, we’ll see. He wants to marry me. I don’t understand why, but the idea of a big eyed baby speaking Italian is enough to make me consider it. Plus, he said I can have a puppy. Nothing is more appealing than a puppy, a puppy that can contribute to the cobblestone decorem.
Last weekend he took me to Rome and Gaeta. My friend J, came with us, but she remained in Rome to “see what Italians are like in bed”. My boyfriend and I stayed at a hotel near the sea, walked throught the streets of Gaeta, and I realized I can’t relax around him yet. After five months of dating, he makes me un-easy. I don’t know what that means. I’m not meant for relationships, or maybe…nobody is, but I haven’t learned to convince myself like other people.
Gaeta is beautiful, and I don’t want to leave Italy. Is it too much to ask of life to be able to write, and do nothing else? Yes. I think it might be, but I am going to try anyways.
A group of German tourists walk by, and I can see white clad gypsies with painted faces walking towards them, doing their strange kissing thing at them. The Germans give them money. I never give them money, in fact, they never ask me because I look French, Italian, or some group less inclined to pay gypsies.
In Gaeta we went to a place where god and the devil once fought, and I thought, the concept of god and the devil seems like two names for two sides of the same person. A metaphor for your good and bad self, and the battles are between the self, an internal struggle. I see a monster fighting with his demons and in a whirlwind of confusion and fury he trips, breaks the rocks, and falls through the cracks into the ocean where he drowns, or now lives. Catholics have their own story. But their stories are too often laced with fear, and their followers are too often guilt ridden and stressed. My boyfriend’s family is Catholic, and he non-chalantly tells me that if we were to marry, It would have to be in a Catholic church, in front of a priest, and by default I would have to convert. “Not a big deal, you just have to get baptised and confirmed”. I have a panic attack. This is not my pagan, persian, wedding that I find lovely. I want to be bound by love, or a chemical addiction to anothers pheremones, but not bound by god which requires too much work, and not enough morality mobility. I am my own moral island.
After our stay in Gaeta, I was sore from immorality, happy, with the view of the sea in my mind. Slate blue kissing blue gray at the horizon as atmosphere melts on top of the deep, wet, sea. White breaks the almost monochromatic view as the waves girate towards the sandy beaches full of old men in speedos, children playing soccer, and beautiful italian women. The sand is soft, yet course like the five o’clock shadow of a man. The waves run over the geological stubble.
On our way back to Florence we stop in Rome to grab “J” who smiles at me as she hops into the back of the car. She texts me, “Italians really are the best” and I laugh. The girls here try them out like Gelato flavors, only instead of flavors it’s regions. Brecia men are efficient, Cassino men are relaxed, and take their time, Florentines…etc. It’s neverending.
We return back from Rome to Florence and head straight to the Opera. My boyfriend has already purchased tickets, and we are in a hurry. “J” heads home through the rain, as it is always raining this time of year. We enjoy the Opera before heading home ourselves. He puts his arm around me and kisses my wet face, the rain is pouring over us, and sloshing under us. The cobblestone is black and slick, and the streets are dark and empty. A tinge of suffocation sweeps over me, I panic and want to run, the culture clash, the differences, the beauty always battling to triumph over shit in Italy.