Dawn – Writing Exercise

On a blog I follow, there is a daily prompt to get the writing juices flowing. Today was one I can relate to. Find it here.

 

“6:00AM: the best hour of the day, or too close to your 3:00AM bedtime? Photographers, artists, poets: show us DAWN.”

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I hate getting up. Up before the sun, up before the nonexistent birds of Florence start singing. Up before him, before the boxer and his owner living in our building, before the postman brazenly leans on all of the buzzers outside of our window, begging for someone to open the front door for him so he can deliver the mail (and people wonder why the Post system in Italy is crap). Up before the tourists flood the city, before the continental breakfasts are laid out in little rooms with too-old tables and chairs and the orange juice that tastes stale and the Americans complain that there are no eggs. Up before the sun casts shadows on the narrow alleyways of cobblestone and terracotta. Up before I want to be. 

But I’m up and I throw on a pair of pants and a shirt and a scarf and some studded boots that everyone seems to own here, and I slowly open and close my door so as to not wake the man sleeping upstairs that has worked too long and too hard the night before. And I grab the outside door – the big, wooden door with the graffiti and the knockers as big as my hand and I push out into the morning light. The sun just barely making the sky a pale blue – igniting the surrounding buildings in a light glow of browns, golds, creams. My boots click on the pavement. A breeze blows down the street from the Duomo, and as I circle around the gigantic structure, its red marble, taken from the quarries near Siena, glow a deep rose in the morning sun. The square is empty. 

Senza touristi. 

Without tourists, without cameras, without horse drawn carriages, ambulances, or artists. Without traveling musicians, school groups, gypsies, or salesmen trying to get you to buy mindless toys, umbrellas, or posters. My feet grace the white marble steps and I dance upon the entrance of this building – built seven- hundred years ago. I stare up at the detail, the complexity, the beauty. In silence. 

The sun grows brighter – the first rays catch the top of Giotto’s tower. Trucks begin rumbling down the streets, a few tourists, with their suitcases trailing behind them, raise up an iPad in front of their face – capturing the view through a screen instead of their eyes. Capturing it to boast, to send it home, to upload, rather than to learn. 

I step down off the marble onto the earth. My train leaves in thirty minutes. 

 

Flickers

Sunrises and sunsets pass by my brown eyes like flickers in an old movie – the film running through the reel so fast it’s a blur, yet I can still pick up the individual photos. But my eyes are supposed to be blue here, according to the Italians. Mostly, the men who, with their withered hands painted a ruddy brown by years of the Italian sun, grab my freckled arms and shake me into believing I’m as bella as they say I am. 

A year is nothing, yet it is everything. And I walk these cobblestones with a new-found confidence that I know this area well enough to strut through it like I own it. But yet, I don’t, for I crumble under the pressure of ordering a simple meal in Italian when the right people are sitting across from me. Awaiting the stumbling over words and mispronunciation, as my tongue gets caught on the “r’s” that they so seamlessly purr among the Medieval towers I now call somewhat of a home. 

So it is that “hanging-in-the-balance” life I’m living. When I fit in but don’t. When I breeze by century old buildings without a care, but then discover a peculiar stone that fascinates me for days. I am over pasta, but under the impression that I will never have enough wine, or kisses, or sunsets. I will never have enough sunsets. Not here. I know that I will always want one more. Even if I leave, I will need to return. I will have to. My brown eyes couldn’t bear it if I didn’t.