Wednesday, October 21, 2009

rainy day in barcelona by k

it's raining, it's pouring and i'm loving it! arel and dorian got a ride to school with a neighbor, so i have barely left the apartment (i did go downstairs to see them off) and barely left bed (i did make breakfast and lunches). but since they set off, i have been in bed...reading the paper, editing a document for the school, catching up on short everything to avoid doing what i should be doing, which is working on my website and marketing for my coaching practice! this blog post is the last thing that stands between me and facing that, so don't be surprised if this is a long post!

i have been meaning to write since barak, dorian and i went to venice. you already know about the wonderful trip from barak's earlier post. i went into the trip especially curious what it would be like to be back in italy after so many years. when i was younger...a lot younger...i think i was 18 the last time i was there, i found being in italy pretty horrible. the first time i went was with karen when i was 15 or 16 and we basically fled the country because we were trailed by packs of men all the time. really. we couldn't take many steps without men coming up to us and not leaving us alone. i know it sounds like i'm being dramatic, but it felt extremely oppressive. we cut our time in italy short and high-tailed it back to france.

the next time i went was when i was 18. i went with my dad and my uncle Winnie. i thought being with older men would make me less of a target, but it was pretty much the same, and now i was with people who had no sympathy whatsoever for how it was for me. on the contrary, they kept saying they wished that women would do that to them. again, i was thrilled when it was time to leave the country.

so, i wondered, what would it be like to go back in my 40s. well, a more different experience i could not have imagined and i have asked myself what changed. of course i'm older and not the innocent catch i used to be. but i think it's more. as the days went by i kept thinking, italy has changed. in the 25 years since i was last there, italy has least that's my theory. it is now much more a part of the greater europe than it used to be, italians (again, i think) travel much more and are not so cut off. i think in the past, young blond women was a rare sight and was the suggestion of other places and other ways (in other words, maybe they'll sleep with me because italian women definitely won't!). now, the streets of venice are crawling with blonds and all shapes and sizes of tourists. i imagine venice is the extreme of this phenomenon in italy, but i'm guessing it's similar in other places as well. literally, not one man looked at me the whole trip or tried to talk to me, even the one afternoon i went walking alone. i know they say older women (am i one?) become invisible, but i have to say, in that moment, it felt good to be invisible. i could be an observer and wander around relaxed. i'm excited now by the prospect of exploring italy again, which is great because it has so many amazing places and the food is tasty.

life is good in barcelona. i still love being in europe. i love the fact that we can fly to venice in under 2 hours, not be jetlagged and get right back to life a few days later. i am also realizing, though, something that really bugs me about being here. europeans are stuffy! of course, not all of them, but on the whole there is a certain stuffiness, seriousness, snobbery and resignation that i see here more than in san francisco. i know i'm making vast generalizations here, and i know san francisco is not the rest of the united states. another way of putting it just popped into my head...europeans are not silly! they don't do silly things or giggle. or they don't do it in public. or something. (i feel i am digging a hole for myself here and i can see barak cringing at my making sweeping statements like this, but oh well.) or maybe i'm just hanging out with the wrong europeans! i miss silliness.

i'll leave it at that and go back to enjoying the rainy day!