Dinner Alone in Bologna

Well, it was wonderful…the Bologna part and the alone part.

After three months in San Diego, with family and friends and helping to care for my mother, Ruthie. A summer of caregiving is very intense. Ruthie is almost 94; she is frail, but lucid and not such a difficult person despite her frailties. Caregiving itself is intense: every evening I was exhausted without being sure of what I had done that day. A thousand little things.

Now I was back home in the Milan suburbs where I have lived for 30 years. Barely out of jet-lag fog, I felt eager to learn new things, so I signed up for a translation course in Bologna, a two hour train trip from Milano Centrale.

My modest 3 star hotel was in the university district and next to Via delle Belle Arti….so I could walk along the street that is lined with university faculties, bars, pubs, artist studios and terracotta romanesque churches; all the walls plastered with posters and leftist graffiti (“Fuck Austerity”, “Anarchy Now!”).

It was still warm here at the end of September so the streets were full of students roaming around, eating ice cream, drinking beer; many kids smoking cigs and the occasional whiff of dope sailed past you as you walked along. Cops were around, yes, but there was no sense of aggression in the air. Just a feeling of being comfortably anonymous in a crowd in Europe.

I ate at the Trattoria Belle Arti, of course. Grilled vegetables and cheese with balsamic vinegar (prosecco) followed by tortelloni with porcini mushrooms (red wine). I sent a few text messages to my husband, Yves, who was biking from Paris to London with a high school friend, but apart from those brief communications, nobody talked to me, nobody bugged me and I just thought my own thoughts.

I remembered an elderly couple who were in the water with me at Del Mar on Saturday the week before, the day I left the US. They were catching waves badly, but enthusiastically. Their bathing suits were from the 70s and they each had dorky foam boogie boards with WHAM-O! written on the tail in red and yellow. I fell in love with this couple and their total involvement in that moment, but had forgotten about them in the rush to pack, catch the plane and get re-settled in Arese. How wonderful to see them again, clear as a bell in Bologna.

Just wanted to share, dears.

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