08 April 2012

as we drive through perilous and stunning tuscan hills from one tiny village to the next, I am struck by the human capacity to remember. and more strongly, the human tendency to forget. to forget so much more than we want to. how often I misplace my car keys or cell phone. how often I cannot remember the plot of a book I once loved. how often I forget the name of that one song or the date of my best friend's birthday. I have forgotten so much of my time in germany just a few years ago. it comes back to me in pieces or through photographs. but the memories of those unforgettable experiences have proved to be, well, forgettable.

and now I am here and I want so badly to remember everything. how I wish I could paint every image in my mind as vividly and everlasting as the frescos of these breathtaking duomos. how I wish these moments and experiences could last as long as the ancient cathedrals and castles that surround me. how I wish I could remember every landscape. every face. every piece of luscious cheese that I am consuming with no regard to my slight lactose intolerance.

I am sitting in a cafe overlooking the famous piazza in siena. where tourists and locals fan out as if they were on a sandy beach instead of on hard brick under the shadow of an enormous bell tower. I am here, sipping a macchiato and watching the rain of this sudden thunderstorm fall hard and fast. I am here, listening to four languages spoken at once. english and german and french and...is that dutch? surprisingly, the only italian is when the waiter asks if I want anything more. I am here and the chatter of others is comforting in my own desire to be silent. I am here, trying to recount everything of just the past few days. the past few hours. I am trying desperately to remember before I forget.

trying to remember the young couple in front of me. writing postcards and drinking cappuccino. but mostly just making out. I would feel awkward and imposing if I thought they cared at all. if I thought they even noticed me. I wonder if their passionate love will last. there is an older couple sitting in front of them. their hands resting lightly and naturally on each other. their love has lasted and become normal and not something to flaunt. their love seems more real.

trying to remember the hotelier in montepulciano. his unenthused but otherwise impeccable service. his sort of bored beauty. and trying to remember adamo, whose family has been making wine for over 1,000 years. he let me snap just one photo of him before insisting that I be in the shot with him. and trying to remember jenny, the winery tour guide who moved from new york with her dog to write a book in tuscany. and trying to remember that I wondered all of the things I wondered. I wondered if I should move to tuscany too. befriend the hotelier who is too cool for me. befriend adamo and with him, harvest the vineyards for wine and the olive orchards for oil. befriend jenny and have her teach me italian with just a hint of new york accent.
trying to remember the tuscan hills. rolling and green and dotted with cypress trees just as I imagined. idyllic and picturesque and so similar to what I see in movies and in my mind. but also different. also dotted with gas stations and car dealerships. the ancient fortified cities still holding tabacchi shops and overpriced gelato.

trying to remember driving in italy for the first time. not just through the steep and winding hills of tuscany with their sharp turns and narrow lanes and road that go from pavement to dirt without notice. but also on the italian highway with speed measured in kilometers and road signs I do not always understand and drivers who know themselves and their cars well enough to drive in such a way that would find my mother with her eyes tightly shut and hand gripping the door.

trying to remember the bright blue cathedral floors. the taste of baked pecorino with pears. the smell of cypress trees after rain. the feel of cold concrete city walls on my fingertips.

but I know I won't remember. like everything else, I will forget as time passes. I will forget too soon. I will look back at photos and I will read these words. but my memory will be hazy and only half-formed. I will forget what intrigued me so about saverio and what inspired me so about jenny. I will remember them only a little. and eventually I will only remember remembering. I will have a memory of a memory. but oh how I wish it could remain vivid and bright and full in my mind forever.


Unknown said...

I loved your entry - as much as I always do and NOT because I am your mother. Beautiful photos and narrative. Memories are so precious because they are like trying to put smoke into a bottle. However, Italy is now part of who you are and you are changed forever because of what you have seen and heard. Continue to enjoy. You may be half-Italian in your DNA but you are ALL Italian in your soul! Ciao, mia figlia meravigliosa.....

Jyndia said...

Love this blog darlin! Thanks for the provoking thoughts about memory... I too find it interesting the things we can remember and those we cannot- despite wanting to do so. I know blogs like this will continue to tell your story... and i think in some ways that is why we blog, why we write, why we photograph. To remember what the brain fails to remember. Love you and cannot wait to hear all about your adventures!