Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Other Scarpa Finally Drops

This story has a really happy ending.

Three years after our together trip alone, Jenny and I finally found ourselves together together in Italy!

We saw Milan, Venice, Siena, and spent a week in Florence, filling our eyes with art, our bellies with food, becoming saturated with beauty and the meaning of this triumph. Italy completely blew her mind... in the right way. The two of us were such a pair, the double-fun was exponential. I showed her all the hot spots in Venice and we had dinner with Fabio in Milan.
The correct response to the Piccolomini Library in the Siena Duomo

On the last full day of our completely triumphant visit to all the gelaterias and carpaccio restaurants, we even made a presentation at an arts colony in Florence, a.k.a. Firenze. I read read sections from my forthcoming memoir based on this blog! Jenny showed slides of her artwork and her brain injury, vividly describing her trauma and recovery.

Listening to her talk, I was disheartened to learn—in kind of a there-is-no-Santa-Claus-way—that after all the anxiety I'd experienced, after all the worry and prayers and candles, that Jenny's healing had occurred so marvelously not through the magic of neuroplasticity or the work of miracles, but because it was a minor injury in the first place. Her brain was not broken, just bruised, in just the right place. Had the AVM squirted a millimeter higher or a hair to the right or with a stronger force, she would not be herself anymore, like so many others who suffer nerve damage, strokes, and growths that alter their senses.  Lucky, lucky, lucky. Also, she was never in danger of death, for all my dramatic and art-producing anxiety.

Jenny's story, which she'd like to turn into a TED talk, was equally fascinating, disturbing, and hot—the temperatures were in the high 30s (celsius of course). The audience at our Saturation Salon sat fanning themselves with the programs, and one had to leave the room when Jenny showed a slide of herself with bruises on her swollen face, stitches up her shaved head. To hear her describe her journey as a painter, and imagine, together, the depression that would come from a permanently desaturated world, built interest and empathy and connection within the small crowd. We all ended up with an enormous appreciation for color. Color! As I watched her, sweat dripping down my back, the truth of my own story became uncomfortably clear: I had nothing to do with her story. I wasn't there. I wasn't actually her family, or part of her supportive community that surrounded her, cooked, and schlepped. All the fuss I made about my own incredible adventure leaving her behind was, to her, just that: fuss.

Afterward, at our dinner party outside in the deepening night, the other visiting artists opened up to us with their own stories, and conversation flowed about how we all grow through and after injury. Tango music played and I danced with a young Spaniard on the patio We drank red wine, ate fresh fruits picked from the orchards around us, ate cheeses and pastas. We just saturated ourselves with flavor, the loveliness of the dusk in the fields (think A Room With A View... where Julian Sands is standing in a tree yelling "BEAUTY!" ...yeah, we were right there). Before Jenny went to bed, leaving me to linger over the Italian love-fest with New Yorkers and Australians and British artists, savoring the end of our story, we caught each other's eyes and melted into each other's happy smiles. We had finally lived our shared dream.

"I loved hearing your story," a beautiful young painter said to me that evening. She had long hair and legs and big eyes and perfect skin and called me a polymath. I loved her for saying so. "It was really, really, such a touching story of friendship, so rare and special." It soothed me that my efforts and vanity were not  completely in vain.

A few days later, our world-enriching host wrote, "When you travel you see more and more that the stories are universal and can be shared in every part of the world with similitudes and differences—but more then everything with emotions that we all feel in different ways and express in different forms—but that all contribute to our first need, our survival."

Ten Days, Ten Pounds will be a book someday. You can see how the story has evolved by reading it on Wattpad!  Please click the stars!

You can also:
  • See all the pretty quotations on Instagram at @generous_muse
  • Listen to the playlist on Spotify.
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