This is the first time I’ve been overseas that isn’t for work. I’m here with my parents, and my sister, and my brother and his wife. Right now, there’s someone playing piano in the inner square of Perugia, the capital of Umbria, and I can hear them from the hotel window four flights up. We’ve played Taboo, and gone swimming, and each waxed esoteric about the things we care about (My father: Indiana Law; my mother: the world’s largest incinerator they’re trying to put in our 20k populated hometown; my sister: fitness in food and in action; my sister-in-law: care for the elderly; my brother: wine and law).
The week we spent in the Umbrian countryside had this view. There, we played Taboo and went on adventures, traipsing through alleyways older than the start of the colonization of what has become known as my country.
We took a day to drive our tiny car to a Grappa tasting (Jacopo himself came out to say hello, tease my brother that he needed his bike tattoo to remind him how to get home, and my numbers because I must forget how to count), the stills cold but beautiful, the cellars pungent and cool. We continued on to Venice for a full 24 hours, canals and tourists and heat. A new favorite statue and the persistent graffiti of unaddressed unrest.
Seeing SJ online and playing cat-and-mouse with details of the statue, finding history and story threads from across the Atlantic. Community and structured knowledge winning out over algorithms.
Upon our return, coming to Perugia, our Garmins butchering the 7-word street names, the absurdity of robotic cadence winning out over the frustration of navigating streets not built for cars. Learning a city with walls like the rings of a tree, built up for the growing population and its needs, neon pizza signs on doorways built centuries ago, praxis winning out over awe of persistence. And the hours-long dinner as the sun set and we made our way through the wine list, talking about life and intent and memories.
Today, wandering streets and churches and walls. Cracks in painted ceilings blending seamlessly with the streaks in marble walls. A shaft of sunlight blessing the shoulders of an unaware tourist consulting a map before moving on. The fake shutters of camera phones and the true ring of a belled phone in the back. Statues and paintings fight, and bless, and seek. Seek seek seek some sign of god, whose house they are in, and in whose name they have been painted and chipped away at. The holy always never quite touching the not yet holy. Candles and sunlight and incandescent bulbs and flickering-quarter-to-light-votive-bulbs. The soft muttering of tourists in half a dozrn languages and beliefs.