Since I don’t have any Puglia stories yet, let me tell you another Italy one. This is my bowl (and his mate, the candle). Bowl comes from Positano, which is a little slice of heaven on the Amalfi Coast, southern Italia. Bowl doesn’t know it, but he’s a daily reminder to me of my Italian dream. You see, every morning like a five year old, I fill Bowl with my Rice Krispies, the little breakfast grains so full of air they wouldn’t fill the stomach of an ant. As I’m sitting there half awake, half still wrapped in the fuzz of night, each spoonful reveals something new. Look… it’s a little house… with a little red roof… and a conifer tree… and a field of poppies. Or at least they look like poppies.
And then I remember, oh shit yeah, Italy. That’s why I got out of bed.
The day before I got Bowl, Italy was not exactly living up to my dream. Nor was anything else in my life.
It was May 2009, nine months after I’d moved to London. Owing to the stupendously intelligent decision to move to the UK smack in the middle of the banking crisis, I’d struggled for months to find any work. But then I got a temporary position at the BBC. WOO HOO, THE BBC!!!! And then I got fired from the BBC.
It was three days before I was due to fly to Naples.
That’s a whole other story, but let’s just say, my bottom lip was hanging pretty low, weighed down by an invisible anchor of “woe is me”. I was also traveling alone, something I’d never done before, and little me, the ignorant Australian, was dismayed to learn that nobody in Naples spoke English. At all.
Cue the violins… and it was my birthday in a couple of days.
For three days I didn’t speak to anyone. I tried, but it would just end in mutual frustration. One day a guy sitting opposite me on the train tried to pick me up -I think. Normally I would have shut him down earlier, but that day I was willing to let him try, if only for a sliver of human interaction. After five minutes, and only about three words understood on either of our parts, we both sighed in unison and went back to staring out the window.
But the train that day was taking me to Pompeii. Oh Pompeii. I’d wanted to go there ever since learning about it in Latin class when I was 12. And it didn’t disappoint. It was spectacular. Well… spectacular to someone who is a classics nerd and had wanted to go there since she was 12. Other, less geeky tourists, might not share my level of enthusiasm. But the best thing about that day was that I got to join a walking tour -which meant I got to talk to people!. Ohhhhh, what a relief two hours of inane conversation with strangers can be.
Pompeii gave me the impetus to try more day trips and I realised the Amalfi Coast was what I needed in my current state of self piteous uselessness, not Naples. I needed calm, relaxation and beauty, not a crazy, bustling city. Stepping off the bus at Positano, I have never felt so relaxed, so utterly tranquil, so at home in my life. And that had nothing to do with hearing an Australian accent every time I turned a bend (Aussie tourists, seriously, is there anywhere in the world you won’t find them?).
Within minutes I was overcome with the urge to buy leather sandals, a ceramic bowl and to go out fishing in my dinghy. Not having much money, or a dinghy, I instead sat on the pebble beach and soaked my legs in the Mediterranean. I may as well have been soaking my entire soul, because all the stress of the last few days just washed away, somewhere out in the direction of Capri.
And that’s where I met Bowl; in Positano at the Emporio della Ceramica on via Columbo. And nearly every day since, I’ve eaten my breakfast from it and remember the whole reason I’m here (in the UK) in the first place; this.
Oh – until I figure out how to enlarge photos with this theme – double click on this photo. It will help you go “Ohhhhh, I get it now”
So there you are. If you’ve got a dream and you’re struggling to make it a reality, shove it in your face first thing in the morning so you can’t forget, so you can’t start the day without being reminded where you’d rather be. Or if you’re in the UK and don’t have a Bowl, just look out the window at the weather. Nothing like a bit of visual stimuli, repetition for emphasis, mind control. This is the one thing I want in life… my Italian villa. Well, that and to be able to eat a bowl of Rice Krispies and not finish hungrier than I was when I started.