That First Time ...

I once had a day surgery.  And at the pre-surgery meeting, with the anesthesiologist, he talked to me about how many painkillers I had to take before going in ... he called it a 'loading dose'.

Being me, I may have quietly refused to take that many painkillers.

He convinced me, eventually.

I survived. 

But these days, 'loading dose' has taken on a whole new meaning for me.  It applies to my espresso-intake these mornings.  They are part of my preparation for writing ... mmmhmmm.

I walk in the city, my camera and I, senses often overwhelmed by all that I see and experience. I stop for one espresso, en route.  It seems to help on the hills . This might be my imagination ...    Then, close to home, I find that second coffee and voila, I am ready to write.

I knew I was doing it, at some level, but today I remembered how the loading dose thing worked and thought, yes.  That's what I'm doing.

Unrelated but something else that happened today.  When I moved from Belgium, to Portsmouth, to Farnham, to London, to Oxshott to Genova ... somehow, I managed to hold on to my relatively large collection of journals.  

Today I went back to the journal where I had recorded my first visit to Genova - 17 October, 2008.  It was fascinating (for me anyway) to read over those first impressions.

I had made notes about famous locals, like Fabrizio De Andre, Gilberto Govi, Giuseppe Mazzini and Bruno Lauzi.  Interviewed and photographed a few of the business people I was meeting in those early days ...  at Trattoria Da Maria, Romeo Viganotti and the bakery on Via Ravecca.

But most tellingly ... I had done a family portrait session, for friends of a Brussels-based Genovese friend, and I had written of the shoot location ... 'Seeing the sea brought tears to my eyes.  It's beautiful here.  So beautiful!  It's like the best of everything I've known so far - New Zealand, Istanbul, Salamanca, Antwerp.  

Genova seems to combine everything, in the best possible way.

And then, my first entry, in that journal I had bought to begin in this beautiful city, not knowing I would be living here 8 years later ... Via Ravecca, Porta Soprana, Piazza De Ferarri, Piazza San Matteo. 

All these names are weaving themselves into the fabric of my life ... here in this Genovese world.

And now, here I am, living inside ... a part of the tapestry I so admired.

A recent photograph, for family and friends who haven't seen anything of me in a while  :-)  Taken in one of the truly ancient ruins, here in Genova.

Photo credit.  M. Civiero.

Golden Days ... Genova

My mornings begin slowly in this golden city in Italy. Morning after morning, I wake to soft blue skies and 30 celsius.  It's changing the pulse of my body ... of my mind. 

I am finding my feet but so slowly. 

Every time I move countries, I have to relocate everything.  The names of simple things change with the language.  Favourite places and people need to be discovered.  And I search for that new rhythm for my days ... for my life.

My holy moment, those breakfasts I love, have to be hunted and gathered again.  Reframed by what is available.  I haven't quite found 'breakfast' here ... not yet.

My skin is becoming brown, my feet have become accustomed to open leather sandals, and I wear that silky clothing I found in the secondhand shops in Surrey.  And I'm bemused because I've never been a silky clothing kind of woman.  But it's hot.  Really hot.

I have this idea now, that wearing clothes only happens because we have been civilised.  In Genova, the heat and humidity dictate that we only cover the skin that we must cover because any more coverage is just plain insane.

But the city and its colour... I began this wanting to try and describe the peachy, golden glow of the buildings here. 

In the past, I've always lived 'in' the city but this time is different, just for a while.  And as my bus rolls down the hill into the city, I see the glow of the buildings and begin to understand that colour is one of the things that has made me fall in me love this ancient place.

Even here, looking out from my borrowed balcony, the buildings are shades of pale yellow through into gold and terracotta.   And yes, then there's the blue sky, arching over it all ... every single day so far.

Life feels soft.  The air, the sea, the colours that surround me.  It's early days and I'm letting myself sink into them slowly.  Knowing I shouldn't but unable to help it.  To rush, to be stressed, to worry ... would be to waste it all.

I have half-constructed that precious breakfast.  There's a coffee machine here so I have my espresso.  Peaches are ripe and cheap at the moment ... they remind me of Christmas, long summer holidays, and home.  And there's cereal but this is definitely only an 'under-construction' kind of breakfast.  The search continues ...

My dinners are mostly about salad.  Paysanne Salade might loosely identify the mix of ingredients that find their way onto my plate.  Sweet lettuce and baby tomatoes,  and a little cooked bacon.  Sweet potatoes (New Zealand's kumara) cubed and lightly fried in some oil, with pieces bread falling into that pan too ... after the bacon.

I'm not sick of it yet.

I have so many stories of good people and marvelous adventures.  It's time to start telling them but first ... you understand, I had to mention the colour.

Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose ...

And so it is ... 'nothing left to lose'  has gifted me the courage to move to Italy.  Finally!

I have been loving Genova since 2008 but ... I had stuff I could lose, I didn't dare move.  Who leaps from that kind of cliff edge really ... without wings?

Suddenly, and unexpectedly... I lost everything, even a country.  Everything, except my books and my desk, and that's only, so far.

But really, I'm smiling.  I'm slimmer and stronger than I've been in decades ... and honestly, that's a good thing.  Right?

'Stuff' can trap a soul in one place, oftentimes quite happy to be there.  Add that brilliant job, the family, those responsibilities ...

So my take on all that is many people get the chance to wander off, in search of that next life. The next big adventure?

Mmmm but this is my second big move.  The first time, I packed my shiny, new university degree and flew out of New Zealand heading for Istanbul.  This time, I have meandered ... slightly lost and a little bit broken.

Finally, I arrived ... on a Tuesday, here in Genova, Italy.  In that city I have loved, more than any other since 2008.  I have that 'nothing left to lose' thing going on and I'm planning on making it here because I believe there is nowhere I'd rather succeed in making a life.

It's been so good to be back.  And fortunately, I really enjoy the northern Italian sense of humour.  Mmmhmm ... because there has been quite some teasing, as new doors opened and I've met new people.  I had forgotten the humour.  The affectionate mocking:-)

Most notably/enjoyably, I was documentary photographer at special event last Friday.  Up in the mountains here (I love writing of being up in the mountains in Italy) and it was such a privilege to be there, to be free to capture the day, to meet the people I met.  I will write of it soon but I need to process the photographs. Get permissions to share.

There is something about Italy ... about Genova, that fills my soul with a special kind of joy.  I have no idea what it is and, believe me, the Genovese cannot begin to imagine what this terribly 'enthusiastic' foreigner finds here.  Never mind,  I find something I warm myself on and so here I am.  Tasting it, trying it, loving it.

I suspect there will be stories ... lots of them.  And photographs too.  I'm slow at the moment, it's been 30+ celsius since I arrived.  I'm adjusting, and sleeping more than I've ever slept ...

Stories to follow.  I'll leave you with a favourite song, performed in a much-loved place in the city here.

Ciao for now.