Day 29 on the job. En route to Genoa, the maritime town of questionable touristic interest, from clifftop stunner Cinque Terre. Couple that just boarded at Monterosso is very couple-y. Girl is currently dusting boy’s nose with curiously squelchy butterfly smooches. Oh look, they’re playing that sweet eyelash fluttering game I used to play with my mother—one childhood memory forever tainted by the rampant instinct to procreate. Good sir, your leggy lady is definitely not going anywhere, so no need to keep your hand there. I feel like I’m horribly invading their privacy, but am unclear as to how I’m not supposed to see this when they’re flopping about directly in front of me. Gah, they’re reflected in the window too. I probably sound very alone. Well, I am, and it usually-sometimes-theoretically doesn’t bother me.
I’m as fond of traveling as an incorrigible homebody can possibly be; on the list of things I’d like to be doing at any given time, traveling probably falls somewhere around number four, after napping, going to the movies, and rereading the Harry Potter series (excepting Book Five because it stresses me out). Unlike numbers one through three, this traveling business is far too difficult to be counted as unadulterated pleasure—the inconvenient realities just beyond the peripheries of Instagram frames include malodorous toilets with greasy brown stains, the dull ache between the shoulder blades after hours of hoisting your backpack, and unsavory train companions. Why, then, leave the comfort of our climate controlled, Anglophone, WiFi-ed up homes, where the poop smears in the toilet are at least our own?
I think it’s largely for the pauses: when you glimpse or inhale or taste some intangible something that twists your emotional innards until they twinge (in a good way) and suddenly your consciousness hurtles above the quotidian white noise of unintelligible bus schedules and every time Google gets the opening hours wrong and you’re left peering sadly into the vacant interior of X restaurant up into some blissful ether and hangs there, suspended and aware of its suspension.
Before I start waxing poetic/too far transgress LG genre guidelines/generally disgust the reading public (myself included), here’s to keeping this blog topical and actually recounting personal experiences in Italy. A pause, from Cinque Terre:
That unholy mixture of sunscreen and sweat laminated under the sticky cotton fabric of my t-shirt successfully distracts from the beauty of the terraced vineyards and plumes of sea spray. I vow to dive (or clumsily flop) into the nearest body of water, be that the genially winking Mediterranean or the murky basin of assorted damp debris at the foot of a communal fountain. We locate a suitable cove off Manarola, secluded by Cinque Terre standards, and certainly more so than the stretches of lurid beach umbrellas for hire over at Monterosso. Hawaii resident though I am, I don’t know that I’ve been submerged in seawater since… my 8th grade class picnic (I really didn’t get out much)? I dally a bit at the edge—the water is cold, and I half recall my brother’s lecture about specific heat from the night before. Am I a plunger or an incher? I plunge, with all the grace of a waddling corgi’s butt. I had forgotten how interesting the ocean is—undulating currents put bathtub tidal waves to shame, and the temperature shimmers between shallow sun-warmed (or perhaps pee-warmed) patches to terrifying iciness (who knows what lurks where neither sun nor pee can find?). I pause.