I will never forget the overwhelming feeling of foreignness and delight I felt when I first stepped out of the tiny airplane that brought us to Pisa. It was late morning on March 26th, 2004, the sky was heavy and black, but hanging in sun-lined pieces over our heads. There was a cool wind that sailed over my skin as I took it in, breathing in the scent of this new place, and I wondered if I would always remember this day. Pine and salt.
Having spent a flimsy three weeks between two hotels, as opposed to a friend’s 75, we found our place. Just up the street from said friend and three blocks from the sea on a shady street called Via dei Biancospini, we found a home. Small and severely more sectioned off than we expected, 23C Biancospini was bigger than any apartment either of us had ever inhabited. Each room could be closed in by a door, including the kitchen and hallways, which was a new concept to us, but the front room was nearly walled on one side with glass doors, which we loved. Opening these French style doors in the summertime made for delightful breezes running through the house and a constant view of our tiny front yard and shady street. It was a little cramped in places, and always a little cold in the winter, but it was home for a while and will always be our first, together.
There were afternoons when I would lay in the sun that spread across the floor in our office/guest room and stare out the open window at the fluffy clouds and swaying pine branches. Even though the concrete steps leading to our upstairs and next-door neighbors passed not far from this very window, I could lay nude on the floor without possibility of being discovered by Joe, home for lunch and a nooner. It was not often that I privately sunbathed on the office floor, but nice that I could.
Our landlords lived in Florence an hour away, but usually summered at their apartment next door to us. They were mature in years and strong of lungpower, as our windows were open if we were home and the yelling carried easily in. At first I was concerned when the yelling persisted for an hour or so, but soon learned that this was normal; it was the Italian way. Communicating was loud and passionate, hand-gestures flying and perhaps even a little spit. Over time, these conversations next door became just another part of the soundtrack of life here, and something that still makes me chuckle.