How did you sleep?
with my professor and TGS
After TGS and I left Roma, we joined a tour led by my Italian professor. We were by far the youngest people in the group (the average age was probably 60 with a high outlier at 84).
When I’m not too busy being young&fabulous, I also find myself living as an “old soul.” I like to go to bed early, go to museums, and read. My friends often tease me about being a middle-aged woman or even a geriatric, but this trip served as the perfect picker-upper and reminder of my true age. (In my own defense, I will never become a “crazy cat lady.” Best/worst case scenario, I’ll be a dog lady but never a cat lady). So although I tend to think of myself as an old soul, this trip rekindled my sprightly nature and reminded me that I am not, in fact, 76 years old and that it’s time to start acting my age.
We joined the group in Lucca, which is a charming and walled medieval city. My professor gave us a tour of the town and then we met all of the other travelers in the group. The next morning at breakfast, everyone partook in an interesting ritual: each person asked everyone else, “How did you sleep?” which translates into, “Let’s talk about how I slept.” Since new friends (especially of the middle-aged variety) are not going to ask about the more interesting things in life (How’s your sex life?) or the more relevant topic facing travelers (How’s your constipation and/or diarrhea?), we are left to discuss our sleep at breakfast and the weather at dinner. While I won’t give up my dedication to getting 8 hours of sleep a night in college, I do plan to keep the details of said sleep to myself.
I speak for myself when I say I’m not going to be a cat lady.
After exploring the town of Lucca, we drove to Rapallo, a town on the Ligurian coast. This is the region of Italy known for pesto and foccacia. Rapallo at this time of year is like an Italian Florida with many, many elderly folks. One day I was sitting in the park reading and saw a portly, elderly gentleman walking towards me. I smiled and got back to my book. When I smiled, I made the mistake of making eye contact. Apparently in Italy, eye contact is the equivalent of saying, “I would like to have sex with you,” and implies intense sexual interest.
So the man sat down on the bench next to me and started rambling in Italian and asking me questions. We had a conversation and then he offered me a candy, which I politely refused. He laughed and said, “Non vado a drogarte,” (I’m not going to drug you) and showed me that he was going to eat one too. I still refused. He then told me that he was from Milano and then when he discovered I was headed there, he told me that if he were in town, he’d let me stay at his house. Thanks but no thanks. I quickly left the bench. This old man’s sex drive reminded me that some desires don’t fade with age.
in rapallo, the young whipper-snappers playing
After Rapallo, we headed to Stresa, a beautiful sleepy town on Lake Maggiore, one of the lakes near Lake Como. In another moment of introspection, I realized that I am not quite as old as I often feel. This epiphany came to me on our last night with the group. We were having a farewell party with all of our fellow travelers and TGS and I received some extremely sage advice from our favorite person in the group. This woman was in her 80’s, yet had more spring in her step than anyone I have ever met. She is the bubbliest, most positive person and she reminded me that age is but a number. She went on to tell us that even downfalls can be important turning points in life. She told us about how setbacks give us new beginnings to redefine ourselves and that one can only be happy in a relationship if she is first happy on her own. Preach it, sister.
So, although I have heard similar adages before, hearing her personal life stories reminded me that I can’t truly be an “elderly person” until I gain more experiences in life. She also taught me that being called “old” is actually a great compliment of which I am not yet worthy. Being “old” is an achievement and I look forward to its rewards, which include wisdom, perspective, and an overall propensity to discuss one’s sleep.