I could not decide if it was my nerves, or my 4th cup of coffee that got me all jittery. My hands were shaking as I grabbed the house keys, which are by the way, approximately as large as fish skeletons, and just as complicated. I stepped out, and turned they key 2 times, or 4 times, but not 1 or 3 times, as the key will not come out. Walking down the 3 flights of stairs, I made it to the bottom level, pulled the latch, and stepped out.
Living in San Francisco, I prided myself in not behaving like a tourist, and being able to spot them from a mile away. I held an air of arrogance, ” I LIVE here, and you are just a momentary visitor.. you do not belong, as I do…” But now, in Torino, I knew I reeked of ‘foreigner’. I tried to walk with confidence, refusing to look at my map. My first obstacle was to cross three busy streets. With Luca, I hold on to the back of his jacket, like a child, and follow him around without considering direction or safety. With this luxury gone, I felt like a dog trapped in the middle of the freeway.
Cars come from all directions. Though there are street lights, following them appears to be optional. Horns blast, people shout, bicycles zoom by, and I am frozen. Completely frozen. With a deep breath, and a mental pep talk, I step out. No one, and I mean no one, will stop for you at will. You must make it their only option. And I swear, when you do, it seems the the cars SPEED up, only to slam on their breaks at the last moment. It is like a cruel, sick game of chicken. I think I black out on my first major crossing, as I no longer can remember the details vividly. But I can certainly guarantee, if you were a bird watching from a wire, or a man sitting a bench, you would have noticed a girl, white as a ghost and sweating a little too much for a morning stroll..
Surprisingly, I made it the 2.5 miles through the city center, past the church which holds the sheet that lie on Jesus’s face, under the Roman ruins, to the Po River. At this point, I had crossed several more streets, was feeling light headed and needed to sit. I had two choices: one to go to the park where many young people read, paint, talk, nap, think, etc; OR head to the other side where I saw a sprawling lawn, and several benches occupied by older women. And you’re right, I choose to join the old ladies. As I sat, I pried off my shoes and noticed the wealth of blisters rising. My terror had been so deep, I did not notice my pain. I sat, calming myself, and enjoyed a few peaceful moments.
About 5 minutes later, I was starving, and had to go back. Repeat above sinareo. When I arrived back at the door, I juggled the fish bone keys and made a few attempts to get in. As I slid into safety, a man began yelling. I shut the door, and he banged on it again and again. Racing up the steps, blisters tearing, I turned the key 2 times, or 4 times, but not 1 or 3 times, (as the key will not come out), and rushed in.
(As it turns out, many people in Luca’s building don’t have keys, and ask you to hold the door for them. Does this make any sense? No, but I’ve stopped questioning logic, as logic does not apply.)
I can say that now, only 3 days later, this event seems ridiculous and silly. I have learned to ease my way into the crowd, choose a person to follow (without them knowing, of course), and cross when they do. Only when they head in a direction not of my choice, do I stalk another. I make this switch as many times as necessary until I reach my destination. I’ve gotten lost once, and I wasn’t actually lost but just in the ‘wrong neighborhood’. Luca made me stop, left work, and picked me up by car. His mother describes him as my ‘White Prince’, rescuing me from the evils of the city. I might agree.
*** This is an old email turned post