Road Trip: Barcelona to Florence, Part I

Twelve days and almost 2500km later, I have arrived back in Florence. I’m in the lounge at the top of the Hilton Metropole, feet up, looking out the window towards the Duomo where the last of the daylight is hitting it’s western side. As I watch, a little parakeet jumps out of the bushes and looks around nervously.

I have just completed a road trip from Barcelona to Florence, with sidetrips to Lake Como and Rome, in my old 1999 Peugot 106. I’ve driven for probably 40 hours in the course of this adventure. Quite a feat.

How do I feel? Relaxed. Tired. Accomplished. And…a bit lonely.

I’ve spent the last eight days with one of my good friends from high school. Her flight from Rome to home was early this morning. Almost immediately upon returning to the hotel, I could feel a hole where she had been. It is difficult to spend so much time with someone you know well and then return to your normal existence. It is the same feeling I have everytime a water polo tournament ends.

Yesterday, my friend and I took the A1 from Florence to Rome. While it spends a lot of time in the valley, it closes down to a two lane road and winds through the hills right before it drops down into Rome.

Throughout this road trip, I didn’t feel comfortable driving my car more than 100 km/hr. The speed limit on the Autostrade in Italy? 130 km/hr. It isn’t so bad when you are driving in the valleys, where the cars are spread out and there are often three lanes, but in that last leg to Rome? Not so fun.

There are always semis, but in that section they tend to pile up. They don’t go much faster than I am comfortable going, so it is easy to cruise behind them, or pass them when they are going a bit slower than I want to go. This easily allows everyone else to pass us on the left.

In the hills, though, I couldn’t easily pass the trucks. Not only was it difficult for my car to speed up around them going uphill, in the left lane there was an almost never-ending line of cars speeding past us. Getting in front of an Italian driver who wants to go much faster than you is never a good idea.

The turns are tight and the barricades tall. Semis in front and in back of you and cars wizzing by the left. Passing us were Audi after Audi, the Alfa-Romeo Giulietta (the only Alfa-Romeo we saw), and many other cars (VWs, Fiats, Range Rovers, Citroens), but none nearly as old as my car. It’s as if I shouldn’t have been allowed to drive there. Next time, however, I’ll be in an Audi or a Mercedes or even a Lambourghini, and I’ll get to experience the fun of driving in the midst of all that confinement.

On the way back

Categories: Barcelona, Florence, Interests, Italy, Rome, Stories, Travel, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Mystery Solved

I was driving to practice a few weeks ago and heard this song. I found it intriguing, as the girl kept repeating, spoken-word style, ‘What the Fuck.’ Curiously, it was uncensored, which maybe isn’t that unusual outside of the US. My interest was piqued when she started talking about being in Spain and partying, etc. This girl was explaining part of my life here! I didn’t think to Shazam it (and likely my phone was in the trunk anyway). All I could remember is that she said, ‘what the fuck,’ and talked about Spain. So I tried to find it on google. But of all the lines of a song to remember when you don’t know it’s title, I think ‘What the Fuck’ might only be behind ‘I Love You’ as the worst lyric of all time.

I don’t know how I finally accomplished it. (Well, I do. A youtube search of “what the fuck,” Spain, song, party). Still, not an easy mystery to solve.

Check out why this song caught my attention:

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And If You Read Italian,

I present to you the Italian version of Il Videogioco. (Special thanks to Andrea for her wonderful editing!)

            Quando la scuola iniziava, tutto è stato normale. Mi sono trasferita in una camera nuova e ho incontrato la mia coinquilina nuova. La mia coinquilina era carina e ci siamo aiutate muovere gli effetti. Ci siamo diventate amiche perché avevamo in comune che non ci sono piaciuti dove vivevamo prima. È stato lontano dal centro e da la università. Tutti degli nostri amici vivevano dall’altra parte. Se non vivessimo insieme, non ci conosceremmo. Siamo state persone differenti. Mi piaciono ascoltando la musica rock e guardando i film. Alla mia compagna piaciono ‘Anime’ e i videogiochi. Studiavo psicologia e lei studiava ingegneria.

            Siamo state insieme durante la prima parte del semestre. È stato più facile stare insieme che stare con altre persone. In settembre, ho trovato un lavoro. Vedevo Bianca di meno perche lavoravo fino alle dieci. Bianca giocava un videogioco chiamato il mondo di Warcraft. Lo giocava costantemente. Ogni volta che venivo alla nostra stanza, lei lo stava giocando. Ho imparato che lei giocava verso un personaggio nel gioco, che era uno gnomo con capelli rosa.

            Al fine di novembre, la mia vita quotidiana cambiava. Rimanevo più a casa perché gli esami arriverebbero fra poco. Mentre studiavo Bianca giocava ancora il gioco. Bianca non ha studiato per niente. Ho notato che Bianca si è dimagrita e i suoi capelli sono sembravano di essere più rosa. Prima, i suoi capelli sono stati biondi. Durante il fine di settimana del semestre, la mia vita è diventato molto strano. Invece di rimanere nella stanza, Bianca è partita di la. Una notte, Bianca si è scomparsa mentre io studiavo. La prima volta che questo è successo, io stavo da un’altra parte della casa. La prossima volta, Bianca si è scomparsa quando stavo nella camera. Ma sapevo che Bianca ritornerebbe perché il gioco è stato ancora acceso.

            La notte prima del ultimo esame, mi sono svegliato per studiare. I capelli di Bianca sono stati più rosa. Ho chiesto se lei aveva colorato i suoi capelli, ma lei non ha risposto. Dopo, mi sono andata a letto. Bianca non ci stava. Il computer era accesso e lo gnomo di Bianca é stato sullo schermo. Ho visto che lo gnomo anche si chiamava Bianca. Non c’é stato segno di Bianca la prossima mattina. Non avevo tempo per pensarci, perché andare al esame. Quando sono ritornata, gli effetti di Bianca non c’erano. Ero triste perché Bianca non ha detto che lei se ne andrebbe.

            Ho detto ai miei amici che ero triste. Comunque, i miei amici non hanno conosciuto Bianca. Loro mi dicevano che non avevo avuto mai una coinquilina. Non capivo come loro non si ricordavano di Bianca, poiché mi ero vissuta con lei per tutto il semestre. Oggi, non ancora so che é successo. Forse Bianca è nel gioco o forse sono matta.

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Warcraft or Il Videogioco

In the Fall of 2008, I took an Italian class in which I had to write a short story (in Italian) in some sort of surrealist manner. This is the story that I wrote in English before I revised/translated it into Italian.

            The school year started out normal enough. I moved into my dorm room and met my new roommate, who seemed friendly in an average sort of way. You know, not too nice that she seemed fake, but at least willing to start on good terms. We exchanged pleasantries, helped each other unpack our too-much junk for our too-small dorm room, compared DVD choices, admired each other’s posters, and lamented about the fact that we got stuck with the least desirable building. “At least we are closer to the supermarket than all the other people on campus,” she said.

            “Yeah,” I replied, “but that’s only better since we are the farthest away from the dining hall.”

            “Don’t remind me. I’m already sick of that food and we just got back to campus!”

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For Maestro

The problem with having two homes is that you are always leaving something behind. The worst is close to the time of departure, when all that fills your head is what you are losing. Even when you know you are going to a good place and even when you know you are coming back.

San Diego has always been my home and always will be. I don’t think a move to any other place can be called ‘permanent.’ I don’t expect to live any one place in particular for the rest of my life. Because I don’t want things to always be the same. I want to grow and have new experiences. For now there is no one place that will keep its hold on me.

However, I keep my link to San Diego because I have so few constants in my life. But in San Diego I have some semblance of a family and a place I am always welcome and safe. I can go out into the world knowing I have a haven to return to. Its like what your mom is supposed to be when you are a toddler. The house that can store my stuff and my dad will be there and I can always go to water polo because I am always welcome there to be and to play.

There is one link that has been lost however, and that is my link to Maestro. He was a most unusual and extraordinary cat mostly because he didn’t act as a cat would. He wasn’t interested in playing, or in being cuddled, and his favorite place to hang out was right in the thick of things.

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