We’ve been running around a lot. The first month, for me, was a whirl of flying, metro trains and a small hotel room in Milan, meetings and meeting friends. Then home to Perugia, where I rented a car and drove right away out to the house in Valfabbrica, where a small army of workers was practically camping out. They were rushing to finish a pool because they knew we were coming, and the weather was just getting hotter and hotter.
I practically have to look at the pictures I took to remember July. I vaguely remember driving to Rome to pick The Spartan Woman (TSW) up from the airport, and the next day we drove out to Ancona to the big IKEA store there. We had a deadline: Our daughter and her cousin were coming in soon and needed beds to sleep in, and we needed tables to sit at and cooking utensils.
Most people come here to sightsee or to sip Aperol spritzes while watching the sun set. We got to know the local big box hardware store, the French furniture store and various housewares emporia. One of these days, if I have the stomach for it, I’ll tell you about cisterns, water pumps and hot water heaters.
Then the young ones came (and so did a bunch of friends to play in the pool and have dinner and…etc.)
Phew. So here, finally, a day of nothing much at all. We did get out to buy a lawnmower, but that was a quick run (to another French retailer, no less). Otherwise, nothing. Feeding the feral cats who come by for food. One likes spaghetti; the other potato chips. We give them cat food, too. Wine for me. Maybe we’ll fix some dinner in a couple of hours.
We’re sitting at our patio table watching stupid bugs fly into citronella candles and listening to planes occasionally land and take off somewhere over the mountains, where there’s a gently used regional airport. If I were in New York, I wouldn’t even notice, but the noise disturbs the rustling of the leaves on one of the few temperate days we’ve had this summer. I’m playing with Siri, summoning her—it?—with the command, “hey, Siri” and telling her/it what song to play (So far, Bowie, Travis, R.E.M.’s “Wichita Lineman” cover, Daft Punk).
Oh, and we passed up being at a party at Sting’s estate in Toscana, sorry, Tuscany. A big part of me wanted to go. No, really. I’ve seen previous years’ videos, where he does a killer acoustic version of “Message in a Bottle.” But it would’ve meant dressing like a grownup, getting into the car, driving a couple of hours. (Plus, I had to think to about mowing the lawn, maybe tomorrow. Exhausting!) Sally, I’d love to do it next year, but today just didn’t feel right.
It’s taking me awhile to get used to this relative quiet. I’ve been on the go for decades, going to an office every day or working at home and staying in contact for fear of being forgotten. Living with TSW has always been akin to being near the eye of a hurricane: not always frantically spinning around but being sucked into the vortex often enough.
Italians have a word for it: La dolce far niente, the sweet do-nothing. I guess I’m not just doing nothing. I’m sitting here writing about doing nothing, which I’ll admit is a contradiction. While I’m writing this, TSW is reading me news headlines about this exotic land across the ocean run by, get this, a failed real estate developer. She chortles at words like “fake news” and “Bannon.”
In the back of my mind, it’s all a prelude to going back to what some think is the real world. I’ll be getting back to work, and some home improvement back in New York. We’re having visitors from here in October, and we’d like to show them more than our usual chaos. But first, I’ll do some more travel writing. I wanted to write something today, but I didn’t want to put much energy into it.