It's sunny, I got permission from my orthopedist to take my brace off when I'm just hanging out around the house, the air is crisp and full of spring, and I'm more then pleased with my haul at the market this week, which included all sorts of fun green vegetables that I look forward to for the whole year.
As I eagerly clutched by bundle of long, thin barba di frate, I realized that it was only a year or so ago that I was lamenting the difficulty of getting things I wanted when I wanted them. Why can't I have fresh peas all year? What do you mean strawberries have a season? Though I knew all these things on paper, living with seasonal produce is another thing entirely. This spurred a train of thought of all sorts of things that I used to complain about (here or in my head) in Italy that were different, or hard to adjust to, or just didn't seem to make any sense. Most might still not make any sense, especially if we are talking about laws of any sort, but that's a longer discussion for another time.
I used to get more then a little dejected when I had a specific craving for something and I couldn't find the ingredients to make it. Coming from New York, and even New Jersey, pretty much every single thing you could want was within a subway ride from being in your hands. In Monterosso, it's another story entirely, but now it's turned into one that makes me smile. There is nothing more pleasing then that snippet of a sunny spring day after a rainy and cold winter, going into a market and seeing it full of long, spindly wild asparagus and pods of vivid green fresh peans and fava beans. Spring comes with a burst of color, and it makes it feel all the more celebratory when you see it reflected in the colors on your plate.
-Having someone else's family around you all the time:
People will complain sometimes about their mother-in-law, or their boyfriend's cousin, or some such thing, but try living in a tiny village where you are quite literally surrounded by his family. Coming from a habit where I saw my own family relatively frequently (for me meaning every couple of weeks) it was a bit of a shock that every day when I left the house, I encountered another relative. My 2 minute commute can stretch as long as 20 depending on who you see on the street. It can be a little heavy at times, but when you break your back and have to lie in bed in you boyfriend's parent's house for a month with his Aunt who is a nurse, you really appreciate the importance of having family around. They are life-savers.
I was always a big, giant coffee drinker, in terms of quantity as well as the size of the cup I was drinking of. After my first degree, I switched to green tea for a few years because I'm already a pretty hyper person, and it was impossible to be around me after a coffee or two. My co-workers would pour out my coffee at work if they saw me starting to take another sip. Here, I drink one cafe macchiato when I wake up (espresso with a little bit of steamed milk), one around lunch, and one in the afternoon and I do not get weird coffee jitters, anxiety, and do not seem to be making my co-workers crazy. Nor am I falling asleep. I actually tried an "americano" the other day, and couldn't even finish it. I've become an Italian, even if it's just in terms of coffee consumption, though when I return to New York in the winter, a giant, piping hot Dunkin Donuts will definitely accompany me around town, even if just to keep my hands warm.
At first, it really bothered me that you are responsible for your own medical history here. When you go to the doctor, they give you a little chart or booklet with all your data and then send you on your way. When you go to another, you bring all your little booklets and such with you. It's not convenient, but the fact that afterward the doctor will give you their cell phone, or email, or skype name (thank you, orthopedist) if you have any questions, is kind of cool. Manuel's mom went to Milan with my X-rays, and the doctor just told her to swing by his neighborhood and they'd get a coffee and look them over. And the whole thing costs a fraction of what it would in the U.S. My insurance works that you pay for your things, and then get reimbursed. Here, my 7 hour ambulance ride across the northern part of the country cost, out of pocket, 700 euro, which I get back. In the U.S., a 7 hour ambulance ride in the snow across the country would cost maybe more then a MA at New York University.
But probably not.
-The letter "z"
Italian does not shy away from this under appreciated letter in english. Zanzara (mosquito), zenzero (ginger), zafferano (saffron)...the z's pop up everywhere, much to my delight - zazzera (a mop of hair)? Amazing.
I hate sitting around. I am bad at it. Even watching TV, I open my computer and fuddle around on CNN. Watching a movie, I get up and start swiffering. Yesterday, coming back home, I caught myself looking up and a pretty cloud snuggled in the nook of the mountain between here and Vernazza and sat down and looked at it for a solid five minutes, smiling. Maybe I've calmed down, learned to stop running around all the time, learned to appreciate the beauty around me.
Or maybe it's that I've been drinking smaller amounts of coffee. Who knows? :)