Maddeningly Peaceful

 

A quick story about my first trip to Orvieto:

Wake up late, barely enough time to get to the airport, forced to pass on “good morning coffee”; not the way any human should have to start a stressful travel day. For many reasons I did not enjoy starting my day like this.

  • First of all, waking up late creates the same sense of panic as closing a locked door without checking to make sure you have your keys.
  • Secondly, the last place you want to be late is the airport. It’s always helpful to have time to double check that you have the essentials (all things digital, and the appropriate power supplies, cords, adapters, etc, to survive abroad), plus there are never any possible slowdowns or delays that occur at the airport… thus increasing the temperature in your already steaming blood.
  • Lastly, anyone who has ever seen me without my “good morning coffee” has never forgotten that day.

Upon arrival at the airport, I find myself at the wrong part of the terminal, so now I am running through the airport like OJ Simpson (before his legal troubles), dashing through security and the x-ray machine where I assume the “I surrender” position (like OJ Simpson after his legal troubles), and I make it to the gate just before they shut the doors.

AND STILL NO COFFEE.

I’ll skip the saga of the flight. All I need to say is—small child who thought I made a great play toy. And coffee… finally.

We land in Rome. Italian customs—a breeze. Train to Termini—no problems. I contact Nyela with the time I will be arriving in Orvieto and inform her I will be turning off phone data (don’t want phone bill to implode from constant updates!). With about an hour until my train, I begin to relax and listen to the environment around me. I actually enjoy the fact that people all around are talking away and I basically have very little idea what anyone is saying. There is a sense of blind stupidity in my surroundings that leads to a feeling of calm.

Photo by Alexandra Plattos Sulack

There is a woman yelling at what I assume is her husband, (about what, I have no idea). Though, I decide I’m sure he deserves it. There’s a child pointing at something behind the glass at the café and pleading with his mother, who finally gives in and buys a crème filled scone for him. He turns and looks at me, his nose dappled with crème from the scone, and smiles. I smile back wishing I could say something clever to perhaps make him laugh, but realize that my smile is enough.

As I continue to look around the train station I see couples, families, business people, gypsies, priests and nuns, with one common thread-—they don’t appear to be in big hurry. They move with purpose, but not a need to be first in line. They take time to stop and talk with one another, or help to carry the heavy suitcase up the stairs for someone else. The only ones who appear to be uncomfortably tense are those who look like me—Americans.

I assume they are American by their over-shoulder bags with logos from various US organizations or cities, the duty-free packages in their hands, and the anxious look of “Where do I go? What do we do now? Who the heck speaks English in this place? What do you mean we need Euros to go to the toilet?

Oddly, I don’t feel as if I fit in with their world or its problems. Though we share a blue passport, somehow I am not part of their group. At this point I realize the joy that I will find over the next 10 days in Orvieto. The fact that if you miss your train or it gets canceled it doesn’t really matter—there will be another one. This is a chance for me to slow down, get off the treadmill of instant gratification and attention that is my life, and truly enjoy my surroundings in “real time” (the beauty, history, people, food, wine, gelato, and of course—the coffee).

In two weeks time, I’ll head back to my “American life,” but on this day, everything is maddeningly peaceful.

 

-Michael Hendrix, Orvieto Musica, Inc., Board President

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