Friday, June 11, 2010
'Don't go to the station. Just get a taxi.' She explains. So I go to the taxi rank. 'How far to Reggio Emilia?' I ask the first driver. '100KM = 100Euros.' I nod, and put my bag into the boot. We set off in the air conditioned taxi from Bologna heading for Reggio Emilia. I take a moment to orient myself, look out the window, at the unfamiliar city passing by. Take the time to acknowledge I'm in Italy barely an hour since landing. Then, blank as a donkey, I stop to consider the meaning of that hurried mobile conversation.
100KM? 100EUROS O, God! Mamamia! Mio Dio! She meant go from Bologna Station to Reggio, then get a taxi from Reggio Station to her house! Idiot. Mamamia! 'Scuzi! Scuzi signore. Io, cretino. Returno per Bologna Stationze, Grazie Tanto mi amico.' No doubt confused, the driver turns back towards the station, I twiddle my fingers nipping my mind with insults: 'Scottish rare bit' 'Short bread attention span' 'Black pudding' 'Irn Bru brained girder'.
15 Euros it cost to take me nowhere and back, under a Sun that does not care and never could, and has nothing to do with public transportation. I get out of the taxi, the driver kindly brings me the bag, and leaves, I stretch in the Sun's oven, and pray for a bottle of water. 'Grazie tanto' I say to the driver. 'Niente' he says, and winks. Camomile skinned, smooth bald head, mid 30's. Bologna is a gay friendly city. Who cares? I do, now that I'm no longer ironing my mind to the impressions others may have of me.
So, off I go, needing Lassie, littlest Hobo, Flipper, to rescue me from Italy, to intuit where the correct train is, to guide me to Reggio, to help revise advanced English grammar. I get the train, sit down, talk with the man beside me. We do not understand each other particularly well. Meaning, we understand each other perfectly well. He speaks Italian, some broken English about Reggio Emilia being the stop after Modena. I speak English, some broken Italian, thanking him for the clarification.
I settle in for the ride past dry corn yellow fields, past industrial factories, and old men on ladders in Olive groves, nona's fanning themselves in deck chairs, and the firm buttocks of a guy ,
each cheek like a sand dune in a desert, down by a river. Someone is very angry with the train. It arrived late, he 's so angry he rolls tobacco, tobacco, tobacco, which is forbidden in the train, and a mother, in a hushed voice of quiet concern, asks him to put it out for the sake of the children for this Mother believes that children are cursed when they breathe in cigarette smoke for the first time.
I dream through the window. Imagine rail lines precise as a sentences, the rhythm of the wheels running through the countryside like syllabic stresses. To think in five days I must give direction to a horde of twenty screaming children. I play the role of teacher, they reluctant language learners. Life is an error, I think and rest my head on the head rest, laugh quietly to myself in a manner which is understood immediately in every language. I tilt my head back and close my eyes, waiting for the lessons ahead to teach me what I am missing.
-Rapid notation of something that will be worked on, should this be made into a short story. It's a horrible mess, I should wait and post it, what's the rush, Jim once asked? There isn't one, sometimes I think the internet is my downfall. I post it online, rather than sculpt on the page. Will I learn better practices? YES.
I'm in Italy again, two months this time, in the North, a place called Reggio Emilia, it is very small Artisan city. I can cylce around the old city in a loop within about 15minutes. It's lovely, civilised. I live in a beautiful house, with a mother and her daughter. I'm working out. I eat well. I'm teaching at a summer camp, which doesn't have an academic focus, so much as activity and basic language aim. All in all, things are going well.