The Other Side of the Arno

 

Write the words.  Don’t force the meaning.  Let the words string themselves together to from sentences and maybe a thought or an idea will present itself. This is what I tell myself.  Write the words. Let them chisel themselves from blocks of letters.  Write the words.  Take away what isn’t needed, let the essence emerge. Easier said than done, it’s a practice.

Michelangelo did that with marble.  He didn’t use molds or an outline. Instead he chiseled away the excess stone and allowed his figures to emerge.  He formed sculptures that are beyond words.  Pictures don’t do them justice.

Bill and I have plenty of pictures of our trip to Italy.  We don’t look at them as much as we talk about the trip, the food, the people, the ruins, the architecture, the color, the art.  We savor the essence of our trip to Italy.

Two mornings in a row, we were among the first people on line at the Accademia Gallery and the Uffuzi Gallery.  Bill didn’t want to wake up early and I didn’t want to spend most of my day waiting in line to buy tickets to museums.

“I’ll set the alarm so we don’t have to wait on line.” I said to Bill. We were drinking the local vernaccia wine and eating bread at a café inpiazza cafe the Piazza della Signoria. We chose this café from all the others in the Piazza because the waiter looked like Bill’s brother Steve.  Really, can you choose a bad café in Florence?  It was unseasonably warm for April and we sat in the shade. We watched the people walk by and found it interesting how over dressed people were for such a hot day.  They were bound and determined to wear their leopard print pants, leather coats and boots, tan, purple and even mustard yellow suede.  We have way too many pictures of overdressed tourists walking the streets of Italy.  We’d pretend to take pictures of each other, but zoom in on the hot, tired looking overdressed tourists.   I was looking at my Florence, Italy travel book. I brought travel books for each stop in Italy and I would leave them behind in our hotel rooms so other people could use them.  The book recommended reservations or just get to the museum early to avoid the lines.

“No. I don’t need to wake up early on vacation to see David, I’ve seen pictures,” he said.

Sometimes I think Bill says no just to hear himself say no. Having the discussion is a choice. Depending on the topic, like a talk about money can become heated. In the end, we come to resolution, an understanding of each other’s point of view, but we look at things in our own way.  Bill is smart with money, he is practical, grounded and I have a tendency to assume that we’ll be okay no matter what. Both are important, but sometimes our views can clash.  Something like this, whether or not to wake up, that’s mostly ridiculous banter.  A yes no yes no yes no of playful bickering. Italy isn’t a sleep on the beach type of vacation though, there’s too much to see.  There has to be a balance between scheduling and exploring.  I’d rather be early and have the afternoons to wander and explore Florence.

The day before we did that. We crossed the Ponte Vecchio Bridge with throngs of people and walked beyond the crowds on the other side other side of arnoof the Arno River. It was quiet.  It felt as if we were the only two people in Florence. Dappled sunlight through trees, high walls securing themselves around buildings and homes leading us along the curved road, blue sky, warm sun, breezes, the click snap whir of the camera. An occasional car would whiz by and the leaves would lift up and float back to the asphalt. That walk away from tourists, and cars, and shopping and crowds. That walk, me and Bill, our voices drifting above the walls up to the sky. That walk, unplanned exploration, peaceful, springtime bloom moment in time, moment in memory, a moment that although I might not remember each exact step or every carved piece of marble or stone that brought us to the Piazzale Michelangelo and the Church of San Miniato al Monte, I remember the feeling.  I remember the color. I remember the pale pinks of worn stone, the many shades of green contrasting the blue and white sky, the worn narrow road.  That walk, an experience that carved itself, grooving bursts of color and texture into a tiny portion of my mind. That walk, on the other side of the Arno.

“You’ve seen it in pictures?” I said.  He makes me laugh. “Why even leave the hotel room? I’m setting the alarm.” I said.

“Okay Mrs. Plan-o”. He was smiling and rolling his eyes.

Early the next morning we walked through the Academy Museum.

“Pictures don’t do it justice.” I said to Bill.

Muscled legs, arms and torsos, sculpted chins, cheeks, noses pulling themselves from the metamorphic rock that lined the halls of the michelangelounfinishedcaptive1527-1528museum.  Our marriage is like this museum, decorated with artifacts, ruins, souvenirs, images, moments, events, memories that line the halls we walk together, hand in hand, on kaleidoscopic days.

Marriage is like a block of marble.  We carve into it; chisel it into a shape, a living breathing creation formed from time.  Moments standing in front of The Birth of Venus, the brilliance of the colors, the drape of fabric, hair lifted by a breeze, soft curves, moments of walking through Florence to the other side of the Arno, letting the Italian smells, sounds and tastes permeate our membranes, moments strung together like a string of pearls; births, deaths, weddings, bickering, crying, laughing, love making, birthdays, graduations, loss, love, joy, pain, letting go, celebration.

Seeing Michelango’s David is one of the moments that we added to our Jewelry Box.

We were looking up at him.  David, with his furrowed brow, eyes focused off to the distance, tense, sling held in his huge left hand, positioned, ready for battle under the dome. We were standing amongst the circle of heads also admiring his stature.  Murmurings and astonished sighs swirled around the smooth stone man.  Michelangelo carved his masterpiece, chiseled the marble until he discovered the form within the stone.

david furrowed brow“You know, once you’ve seen it in a picture, it’s really no big deal.” Bill said.

I leaned into him, reached up and kissed his cheek. “Yeah, right hun, just like our marriage.”

 

Journal Entry May 15, 2013   7:23am

Comments

  1. Pat Zahn says:

    Your husband is undoubtedly cute but wrong. The feeling from seeing an actual sculpture vs a picture is profound – I worry that our current focus in education will quash our next Michaelangelo. I only had a taste of Italy (Venice) and want more.

    • He was kidding… ;)I agree though that education needs to change…some schools aren’t even teaching cursive writing anymore..this is not a good thing. I understand your concern.