My morning view ...
I tried to explain to Sara and Patrizio just how much I was going to miss the everyday chaos that comes like clockwork at mealtimes (and pops up all over the place in between), but in the end, they will never really know just how much I love every minute with them and the kids – even the crazy ones. I just love these kids!
It has been another busy week, but a happy one. On lunedi I finally got my long-awaited package from home, full of things (books in particular) that had been left behind in deference to weight limitations. My poor parents had quite the time getting it to me! The customs form required every last detail of the contents, there was a huge list of no-nos (including shoes and perfume, two things in particular I had counted on being mailable), and then charges on both the sending and receiving ends. Crazy. I was particularly sad about the shoes, because my Birkenstocks were one of the pairs that got left, and they are pretty much all I wear in cooler weather. Guess I will have to buy another pair while I am over here – quite a shame, yes?
Anyway, back to the package. I think I scared the poor delivery woman with my excitement. See, I was home alone that morning because everyone else was out running errands and such, but I was napping, so when the buzzer rang, I didn’t react the first time. Then came a second buzz, and I stumbled out of bed to the door to see who was there. Once I saw the delivery truck, I about fell down the stairs in my haste to get to the gate! She needed ID, and there was a ten euro charge for delivery (which, thankfully, I had in cash!), so I ran back up the stairs to grab my wallet. But eventually, the heavy box was in my possession and I was running upstairs for the last time to unearth my treasures. It felt like my birthday! You know it’s bad when you are giggling ridiculously while all alone, just you and a box. But I was just so excited!
Inside were basic things like extra toothpaste, sweet things like Mentos, useful things like my external hardrive, fun things like toys for the kids, and things that make your heart skip a beat, like books and a beautiful new watch set in EST (which, I still haven’t changed, by the way). I think I was most excited about the books, with the watch being a very close second.
The enclosed titles included: Cyrano de Bergerac, The Man Who Was Thursday, A Room with a View (which I devoured in about a day), and a guide to Tuscany and Umbria. Inside I also found Orgoglio e Pregiudizio (which Patrizio is now reading), and For Women Only (which Sara is now reading).
For Women Only is basically a guidebook to the male mind written in a language women can understand. I wish you could have seen Patrizio’s face when he picked it up and read the cover. “What is this?” he said, laughing because he had a pretty good idea of its contents based on the subtitle (“What you need to know about the inner lives of men”). When Sara and I explained it further to him, he smirked and said, “But why do you need to read this? You can just ask me!” You can imagine our mutual response to this suggestion … yeah right!
Oh, and one more happy note about the package – for some reason they were not supposed to include personal letters inside, which made me sad. However, unbeknownst to my family (at least, I think it was unbeknownst), I had slipped a couple early birthday cards I received before I left inside a couple of the books. So I got some momentos after all!
On giovedi Sara and I started watching The Holiday while the kids napped. We were able to finish it on venerdi afternoon and she absolutely loved it! I think it was a lot easier for her to follow than Pride and Prejudice. I mean, not only were the conversations slower, but there were far fewer multisyllabic words and only a handful of British dialects to decipher! We are going to watch Jane Eyre next.
The other day Sara made my day by revealing that she was just as sad about me leaving as I am. We were in the kitchen talking as Veronica finished up the last of her morning latte while Leonardo and Ginevra were out biking with Patrizio. Both of us were relishing the quiet, commenting on how peaceful it was, and she brought up the fact that school would be starting shortly after I leave and then it would just be her and Veronica most mornings – soon every morning would be quiet like this one! She said she had been thinking about it one morning, and then she was hit with just how much she was going to miss having me here to keep her company. That blessed me to hear! I mean, it is one thing to assume another person is enjoying your company and quite another to be told how much they will miss you!
One particularly happy piece of news has to do with the weather, which I find kind of humorous since the weather is generally thought of as a dull topic people turn to when they can’t think of anything else to say (not at all the case here!). We got quite a bit of rain on venerdi throughout the day and again at night, and to our delight, the temperature has dropped significantly as a result. We were all relieved: Sara and I because of the likelihood that our battle with the zarzare might be lessened, and Patrizio because his guardino has been dying a slow, painful death due to the lack of rain (it seems his indigenous rain dances finally did the trick). So in the end, all parties were satisfied by the glorious rainfall (except, momentarily, the kids, because they were frightened out of the senses during naptime when a huge clap of thunder woke them up and caused a minor scene of hysteria).
That night we watched Ratatouille, in italiano of course, because it is one of Patrizio’s favorites (those of you who have seen it will know why). When I went to bed that night, the temperature had dropped to the point that I needed to sleep in sweats and a long sleeve shirt to be comfortable – I loved it! I kept one of my windows open, so when it started raining in the middle of the night I fell back to sleep with the sound of rain lulling me to dreamland. It was just fantastic after weeks of hot nights, something you can’t truly appreciate until you have been without AC for a month!
Check out this picture: Patrizio cooked a marvelous turkey earlier this week, and they had quite the time with the drumsticks afterwards! You can’t really tell, but Ginevra is actually about to brain Leonardo with hers …
(You would never guess that behind that innocent little face lies the plotting capabilities of an impish genius, now would you?!)
However I did not sleep that well last night, not due to the weather, which was still cool and delicious, but because I had a small cup of espresso after cena (dinner), which was pretty stupid of me. Usually I just have one after pranzo (lunch), but the rain has brought in some nice cool weather so it sounded really good last night when Patrizio made some. The result? Not tired at all when I was trying to fall asleep last night. Oops. So I exercised, thinking that might make me tired. Again, stupid Bekah, just not thinking (Dad, I forgot to take my stupid pill yesterday morning – and I am running low, so please send more via airmail). My little workout gave me more energy and I was less tired than ever. Perfetto. I am not sure when I fell asleep, but I ended up waking up multiple times through the night and for good around 6 this morning. That’s the last time I enjoy an after dinner coffee!
I meandered in bed until 7:45 or so, then made my way to the kitchen where the happy noises of hungry little Falaschis were erupting. And what did I find? Everyone (minus Patrizio, who was wrapping up a night shift at the hospital) gathered around the table (which is never the case at breakfast) as Leonardo shouted “Buon compleanno!” and shoved a big birthday bag in my face as Sara scolded him in Italian and told him to let me sit down first. It melted my heart! Meanwhile, Ginevra had started wailing at the top of her lungs because she wanted a biscotto, Leonardo was still demanding that the present be opened (as he began pulling out the contents himself), and Veronica started singing in baby talk (high pitched squeals). Poor Sara! Between the two of us we put out all fires, pacified all whims, and settled down to eat and enjoy the beginning of my birthday. They gave me a beautiful scarf and Le pagine della nostra vita (literally translated: “The pages of our life,” which is the Italian version of Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook), which should be considerably easier than my first attempt – trying to read Jane Austen in italiano! Another present (which they had already given me) was a bottle of my favorite perfume, which had been left behind because of weight and then not permitted in the package my parents sent. I have already been putting that gift to use on a daily basis!
Later this morning we all went to church, which turned out to be quite the trial for me (in the best of senses and not in any way you might suppose). See, one major difference in Italian churches (at least, in the ones I have visited) is that there are no nursery services – all the children are in the sanctuary with the adults. Now, knowing that, and adding to it what I have told you about my little comrades, can you guess how I was tried?
Think about all the times you have had to fight to maintain composure – either in a church service, at a funeral, wedding, whatever – and you will have a pretty good idea of how badly I wanted to laugh at loud, but couldn’t. Ginevra sat in her stroller for about ten minutes (which amazed me), and then Leonardo started talking to her and it was all over – she leaned back to look at me and started squealing my name (as it echoed throughout the highly echoey cathedral), then started saying “Ciao!” to the old man across the aisle from her. She also walked over to him and started digging in his pants, searching for his keys, and squealed again when she found them.
Meanwhile, Leonardo, bored of crawling in and out of the pews and asking impertinent questions in normal volume (versus the whispers his nonna replied with), decided to seek amusement and answers elsewhere. He stepped out of our row, walked up to the man behind us and asked, “Finito?” I about died! It was just too funny, and I was already tired, which was not a good combination. Thankfully, I was not the only one who found them amusing, and to my relief I also succeeded in making it through the service without snorting (as is my propensity when I am very tickled by something). I think what saved me what the thought of a snort echoing through the service and everyone turning to stare and frown in astonished disapproval before kicking out the irreverent snorter and returning to the service. At such times, an overactive imagination like mine really comes in handy!
After the service we strolled down to Sansepolcro, Sara trying to keep Leonardo off various walls and fences, Patrizio trying to pacify Ginevra as she rode on the back of his bike, and me happily pushing an equally happy Veronica as she cooed in the stroller below me. Despite the predictions of rain, it turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous day, complete with Carolina blue skies, warm rays of sunlight, fresh summer breezes, and full cotton candy clouds. It was a nice way to stretch our legs after the service – just a brief little interlude around the town before heading back up to the house for pranzo.
And what a pranzo it was! Patrizio went all out for my birthday, serving us a knockout plate of four-cheese gnocchi that was easily one of the best pasta plates I have had in my entire life. This was followed by corn on the cob North Carolina style, something they had gotten special for my birthday (Italians don’t really eat corn that much, and pretty much never on the cob). And then came the grand finale: freshly cut pineapple rings swimming in homemade sweet cream coupled with a delightful little cream pastries that Patrizio had picked up at the local pastry shop earlier that morning (followed by a cup of espresso for the adults, of course!). I was positively stuffed, but oh so happy. I wish I could send each of you a plate of his gnocchi – there really is no comparison, and I am afraid our version of the dish pales shamefully to this homemade goodness.
Lunch pretty much did us all in – Ginevra and Veronica went down for naps, Sara read to Leonardo before adding him to the company of sleepers, Patrizio picked up the newspaper, and I came to compose this little love letter to you all. The house is relishing one of those rare moments when all is very, very quiet!
Now technically, I am not officially twenty-one yet. In fact, I still have a couple hours to go because I was born at 2:22 p.m. EST – which translates to 8:22 this evening. But technicalities aside, I have had a very happy first day being ventuno. Oh, and Michael Phelps went and rewrote history when he won an eighth gold medal in honor of my special day … how cool is that? Thanks, Mike!
And now I am off to enjoy what is sure to be an absolutely extraordinary birthday dinner with the fam. Have a wonderful week and enjoy the rest of the Olympics!