Tonight is my second night in Bologna, and I am here one more day, then I travel to the town of Dozza (an hour east of here) to participate in a work exchange with a local family. As I sit on a bed loaned to me by my host’s roomate, on the third floor of a beautiful old building on one of Bologna’s busiest streets, I am coming to the realization that I have become a country girl. For the majority of the last five years, I have lived in the Hudson River Valley, and though I have loved and appreciated this chosen home, I haven’t fully appreciated the effect it’s had on me until now. There is a sense of bombardment as I walk down the sidewalks in this city, people constantly jostling and trying to walk faster than everyone else. Everything feels cramped and squished together, and my senses are on overload. Can everyone just stop for a minute and look at the person next to you? Can we all just smile at each other for five minutes and see what changes that might incur? I want to say these things, but of course I don’t.
The best part of my day was also the most spontaneous and the most human. An adorable boy, perhaps two years old, was toddling on the pavement, excitedly approaching two pigeons. All of a sudden, the birds took flight, wings flapping. The boy, startled but laughing joyfully with the biggest smile I’ve seen in days, shouted “Non è colpa mia!” (Not my fault!) He was so full of in-the-moment glee that he made everyone around him laugh too, and it occurred to me how little I have laughed since being in these cities.
What I am anticipating come Sunday is some of what I miss about the Hudson Valley: seeing a multitude of stars at night. Listening to the wind blowing through the trees, birdsong, leaves crunching underfoot. Falling asleep at night not being disturbed by the ever-present Vespas or cars racing by, but content in the quiet and darkness of the country. Smelling fresh unpolluted air, being in close contact with farm animals, and going for a walk with grass and soil underfoot rather than concrete.
For now though, I will continue enjoying the pizza, gelato, and perfect homemade pasta 🙂
“Keep things on your trip in perspective, and you’ll be amazed at the perspective you gain on things back home while you’re away.”– Gail Rubin Bereny
“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.” –George Bernard Shaw