Just Remember
Written by
Annie Pool
April 2012
Written by
Annie Pool
April 2012

A Soulful Tripper


Already I'm starting to miss certain things, everyday useful things like heat, hot water, soft towels and easy access to the internet. My apartment is chilly and the stone wall next to my bed feels like a block of ice. Utilities in Italy are limited and expensive, so hefty charges will be incurred if I turn up the heat.

I'm so relieved I bought warm, fuzzy, sensible pajamas before coming here. One friend thought it was absurd, that I should have purchased sleepwear more in keeping with the spirit of Italy...something a little more frivolous and romantic. I can’t help being deliriously happy that I'm not sleeping in frivolous romantic nighties right now. Even when I warm up my pj's on the radiator before going to bed, I’m still shivering underneath a mountain of blankets.

Outdoor clotheslines are commonplace in Florence and on laundry day, my towels are no longer the soft and touchable linens they once were after being fluffed in a warm dryer but hard, crunchy things after air-drying outside for hours. And forget about long, hot showers or baths. Depending on the time of day, often a brief, lukewarm shower is the only available option in sight.

Recently, I purchased a USB device with a SIM card that will enable me to access the internet anywhere in Italy, only it doesn't work where I really need it the most...in my apartment. So I've had to figure out other places where I can comfortably sit to go online.

The other day I went back to the store that sold me the device because it simply stopped working. When I entered, I approached two saleswomen behind the counter and in my usual way (but with my best Italian), tried to be polite and ask for assistance.

Something I said caused the women to erupt in uncontrollable laughter. I knew my Italian was weak, but I didn’t think it was that bad. Besides, since I made the effort (however feebly) to speak the language I had reason to hope that my efforts would be rewarded.

Maybe it was my typical North American way of social interaction by beginning the conversation with the question "How are you?" in Italian. It seems that in Florence, it’s better to cut the crap, quit the small talk, and get down to business. (Then if I still feel like it... and if I still like you... I might be nice).

Since they were laughing already, I thought it might be amusing to ask, "How do you say in Italian?" but decided that since they had the upper hand, it might be better to try and stay on their good side.

It's times like these that make me realize that out of all the things I miss the most, I miss my friends and family. Anna, my dear Italian teacher in Canada, warned me that I would have days like this, when I'd wonder why I'm here, why I’m all by myself without the comfort of loved ones around me. Anna is a sweet, classy, sophisticated woman who looks like she never swore a day in her life. Before I left, she told me...

"Just tell yourself, I'm in f------ Florence!"

And depending on the given moment, that phrase takes on an altogether different shade of meaning.

Let's be friends

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