True story. A couple of weeks ago, I started an entry with this title and saved it as a draft. But then I never actually wrote the entry. I had been planning to write about how I have this tendency (maybe we all do) to question myself when others think I’m making the wrong decisions or when they have a different sense of the direction I should be going.
But lately I’ve been thinking, why is it that I automatically assume that they’re right and I’m wrong? Couldn’t it just as easily be the other way? On the one hand, they have the advantage of more objective perspective (possibly), but then I have the advantage of my own experience and knowing things about myself and the situation that perhaps they don’t.
And I’m sure, in those times when what I think is right doesn’t align with what others think is right, neither side is correct all of the time. Or maybe both sides are correct and it’s just a matter of choosing a direction and going with it. When two roads diverge in a yellow road, both roads may lead to equally joyous destinations, it’s simply that one traveler cannot travel both.
But anyway, I didn’t write that entry and instead, this draft with just the title has been sitting here. And then yesterday, I was offered lemoncello twice — in two different cities no less.
I stopped at a little cafe in Venice for lunch. It was on a little side alley, away from tourist traffic, and was fairly quiet. As tends to be the way with Italian cafes, lunch was “leisurely”. Which more literally translated means that after an hour, I had only been served soup and the main course was still nowhere in sight. As a native Californian, that kind of patience is a virtue I don’t possess, and besides, I had an upcoming train and knew that based on experience, I would get lost several times and what should be a 20 minute walk would likely take me around 2 hours.
So, I told the waiter that I needed to catch a train and would it be OK if I took the pasta to go? His response? First, he took my hand and led me back into the kitchen, where the chef was preparing my food. He yelled at the chef in Italian something about how I needed my lunch and where was it anyway? I finally convinced them both that no, really, it was fine, and takeaway would be lovely.
Next, he led me into the dining room where Spanish music was playing and twirled me around with a bout of dancing I couldn’t really keep up with, being a fairly terrible dancer. Then, he said we should have some lemoncello before I left, so I sat at the bar and he made up the drinks, and then we toasted and I have to say, it was pretty delicious lemoncello. Finally, he wrote his name and phone number on a card and told me to call him when I was next in Venice.
Later in the evening, I was in a little restaurant in Bologna for dinner. The waiter spoke very little English, and I, of course, peak even less Italian, but somehow we managed to communicate well enough for me to order. After the meal, he came back and asked if I wanted any dessert. No, I said, the dinner was plenty. Well, then at least I’ll give you some lemoncello. It’s homemade!
He brought me not only a shot glass, but left the entire bottle on my table. I felt it wise to stick with the one, however.
As with the rest of Europe, Italy seemed enamored with old American pop music. In Bologna, this seems particularly odd given that the residents speak very little English. Musicians had set up all over the main square. These aren’t the street musicians you normally see with their violins and accordions in places like Dublin. Or even the small orchestras that play around St. Mark’s Square in Venice. These were full bands with amplifiers and speakers and microphones and they were seemingly on every corner. I walked from end of the square, where a lounge musician was singing Billy Joel’s “Just the Way Your Are” with an electronic keyboard, to the other end where a full band of middle-aged men were in the midst of a rendition of “Mr. Tambourine Man” in English that seemed likely they didn’t understand.
Yet another corner had a group of guys breakdancing to American rap. It reminded me of when I was in high school and guys would gather in groups on the street and break dance. Only as we were in Italy, the dancers were much better dressed and didn’t need sheets of cardboard, what with all the sidewalks being marble.