[personal profile] winterlive
nobody is reading this site anymore, or if they are they're certainly not reading me. but i'm in italy for the next 2 weeks, i need a place to write down some of the things that happened, and this is the only diary kind of thing i keep anymore, so here we are.

yesterday i was awake for about 36 hours, barring a couple of very brief naps. so were my two lady traveling companions, S and E. S is a bit like me: occasionally loud, occasionally crass, but rarely rude. E is a wee slip of a thing who speaks under her voice, but she can surprise you if you're listening. we started with an 8 hour trip to amsterdam, with every righteous intention of sleeping through the plane trip. i took sleeping pills for god's sake. but whatever demonic engineer is responsible for modern aviation made sure that rest would not be ours; all three of us tossed and turned, and arrived at schonphol airport very tired... but keen to get on with our trip! we had 10 hours of layover in amsterdam, and tickets to visit the van gogh museum.

if only i hadn't left my passport and boarding pass on the plane.

look, shut up, okay? i know. trust me, i KNOW, but i had cleverly woken up at 4am that morning to try to fight the jet lag, and i was so sleep deprived i barely knew my own name. anyway, that was two hours of miserably sitting in customs, fighting off a panic attack by texting S my hallucinogenic impressions of the dutch folks around me. (vikings, pastry chefs, and the elusive brown bears.) the ordeal came to a blessed end when a cheery blue-suited airline staffer turned up with my papers in a ziploc marked "lost and found". i have never been happier to see any human being.

we bused into amsterdam and found it much like canada, only thicker. the air was thicker, the underbrush thicker, the buildings dense with detail. but they were the same elms and birches under which i walk at home, and we could halfass some of the road signs. so it felt welcoming, which was good at this point, as we were all basically high on sleep deprivation, and trying very hard to pull ourselves out of a bad trip.

we hit the van gogh museum in this state. i can only imagine what that place would be like if you had been to a coffeeshop beforehand - the halos would really RADIATE. but even so, it was a unique experience that i wouldn't give up. i looked at my bedroom, and i saw the safe, warm place spoken of so often by people with mental health issues. bed, where you can rest, where it can be just quiet for a while, the best place in the world. i looked at wheatfield with crows, and i heard the sudden rumble of thunder that had startled the crows up from their meal, ominous and closing in, even though the lightning hadn't shown its face just yet. i looked at starry night on the rhone, and everything else went away; everyone was hushed and warm in the low and glimmering light, and people floated in the river and looked up at those stars. i looked at other things too, but those were the ones i remember most.

oh, the current exhibition was a compare/contrast between van gogh and edvard monch, and the most memorable things about monch were a) he was the biggest van gogh fanboy who ever lived, like, painted his own versions of vincent's paintings which today is known as "fanart", and b) his name is pronounced "monk", which means that i will never master the dutch glottal stop.

anyway, about halfway through the theo gallery, we ran out of steam and had to go eat everything in the insanely expensive cafeteria. E tried caprese salad for the first time. once we had recharged, we ate up every spare minute looking at paintings, and then hurried out to catch our bus back to the airport. and by 'hurried', i mean 'dragged our braindead butts', because by the time we reached the airport again, S was giving serious thought to just lying down on the floor to sleep, and i honestly could not find fault in her reasoning.

we landed in florence at 11pm, 2 days after we left home. someone had brought a dog with them, and the carrier was brought in before all the luggage, so as we waited by the carousel, the whole plane cooed over the poor dog, which was so delighted to be the focus of that much attention that it threw itself against the sides of the carrier and nearly knocked the thing over.

the taxi into the city was... okay, any normal person would have been clutching the seats in panic over the 67 close calls we had. but we were functionally zombies at this point, so all three of us sat there, calmly waiting as our taxi driver sped through pedestrians with no more than 6 inches clearance at any given time.

we arrived at the apartment. it was a beautiful oasis. our italian host carried our luggage upstairs, and left us a bottle of wine, a gracious card, and the wifi password. i had a SHOWER. it was easily the most beautiful moment of the year.

more as the trip goes on, maybe.
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March 2016

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