Today was a lovely and simple day and I spent most of it as more of an observer than a participant. I find that existing in another language takes a tremendous amount of energy and concentration, and some days I just don't have the resources. My brain has to be willing to operate at it's highest capacity 100% of the time because otherwise I simply cannot follow what is going on. If I tune out for just a few seconds, I just can't put together enough pieces of the puzzle to make sense of what someone is saying. Today, exhausted emotionally by all the stress I've been feeling over the last couple of days, it was almost like the italians were speaking martian to me and I was frequently staring at them blankly and nodding my head. And instead of concentrating on what they were saying, I found myself observing their gestures, voice cadences and interaction with each other and once again comparing everything to the american ways of being.
I made plans to have lunch with Vincenzo and when he showed up he had two girls with him who he had just run into on the street and who were friends, and we all set out together and had lunch. Later, when I was scheduled to meet another singer in my cast, Paula, Vincenzo came with me, and while we were walking around, we also ran into Carmella, a soprano from the first cast, and the four of us ended up spending all afternoon and evening together. The thing I found so different about it (and the thing I loved) was how easily people joined in on the plans and how flexible it all was. No one had anywhere to be at any specific time, nor any specific agenda, and the day unfolded with groups of friends and people who didn't even know each other just talking and passing the time. No one ever said "would you like to come with us to such and such?" people just ran into each other on the street, and drifted around together until they ended up somewhere. And while walking there was always talking, and the slow walking pace would often come to a halt because when italians get really into describing something or concentrating, they just can't keep walking. Maybe this is one of the beautiful things about commerce being basically non existent on Sundays - people actually spend time together doing nothing but being with one another (and eating of course) and no one ever looks at their watch.
Today I drank my first Bicerin - a Torinese drink which consists of chocolate, coffee, and cream - at the cafe where it was invented. I savored the drink, my new italian friends, the now familiar sound of the language, and finally accepted the sweet, slow timeless feeling of an Italian Sunday.