My last lesson on a Thursday preceding a five day weekend comes to a close. There are never ending holidays here. I toss my books into my bag, jog down the stairs of the Statuto palazzo and step out into the seven o’clock sun, hot and low. I make the eight minute walk to a friend’s house, the straps of my backpack making my shoulders sweat beneath my tee.
I’m here, buzz me up.
We throw a chilled bottle of white, some plastic cups and a bag of chips into a bag, and are back in the elevator within five minutes. It’s piazza season.
The sun is still up when we reach the steps of the basilica, searching for a space to put ourselves among the people lounging in the late sun, drinking, talking, playing music. The weekend starts now, she says, pouring me a glass before pouring one for herself too, cheers.
Everything is different. It’s been just over a month since I moved apartments, quit the job that gave me a sense of security but also dread, and left a relationship that I had outgrown. For the first time almost since I arrived three years ago, I am on my own here and without a solid plan.
Since this shift, I have fully immersed myself in the forest project, a little school in the countryside where learning doesn’t mean sitting in desks and rows. My face is freckled and my arms brown from afternoons spent in the field, picking wildflowers or building forts. I could feel lost, I could, but instead I feel more myself than I have in a few years. Sun-sleepy and dirty most days, but having found my tribe.
We talk about that, we talk about other stuff, we talk to some Americans sitting behind us, and the sun goes down on the square, the temperature decreasing only slightly as the contents of the bottle dwindle. The crowd increases, guitars are brought out, bottles clink, rolling down the steps as they’re tripped over by step dwellers looking for a spot.
Everything is different but everything is okay. I live in an apartment I can barely afford but it is full of sunlight and plants I buy on payday with a grin as I lug them home and up the three flights of stairs. I work in a job that will only continue to exist if a small group of people continue believing there are better, more natural ways of education, against the grain of Italian society. I’m on a visa that will expire soon if I don’t write an exam I’ve been putting off since December. But I’m here in this piazza, and the bricks are warm on my hands, which I’m leaning on.
We finish the bottle and without much hesitation walk around the corner to the shop to buy another, reclaiming our spot when we return. At a certain point I stop thinking about tomorrow, if I ever was thinking about tomorrow, and settle into the fact that I won’t be home for dinner. But there’s always breakfast.