For me, Italy is just one of those places that show up in my dreams every now and again. I’ve never considered a trip there because…well, I don’t know, maybe I think the place is too good for me.
But as soon as bans are lifted and fevers have dissipated, I’m getting my caboos on the first plane there. I’m not even interested in the touristy stuff. I just want to walk those alleyways and maybe say thanks a few times…
See, a bunch of Italians I don’t know at all saved me today. The president of my country announced a state of disaster in light of the spread of the COVID-19 virus and issued some pretty strict instructions on how life will operate in the next few months.
It wasn’t long before the panic came flooding in on my smart phone.
My one friend realized her very many sons will now be at home for almost two months straight due to school closures. My heart stopped for her. I would not cope with active, highly intelligent but stimulation hungry children on one premises for two months without surrendering to alcohol and bad men…
Then the texts started rolling in and the panic was palpable and irrational. Of course we’re in uncertain and critical times, but panic has solved exactly…oh wait…it’s never solved anything. It’s just a bastard.
I felt that old tingling of anxiety rush through my chest. I felt resentful…why can’t people just breath and why are they taking me along for a ride on the terror train?!
Then someone sent me a video of Italians singing in flash mob style from their apartment balconies.
I spent the better part of an hour watching these videos of Italians standing over their respective cities, belting out old familiar opera numbers, folk songs and instrumental sounds that remind us of beauty and romance and passion.
Life was breathed back into me. I’ll be perfectly honest, I felt a little like crying. My stupid stoic heart felt light and hopeful.
And it’s about so much more than just the pretty music and amazing voices, isn’t it? It’s about people responding against expectation.
Like firefighters running into a burning building. And special forces soldiers and police officers running toward the sound of gunfire. And medical staff doing their jobs despite the world shutting down and self-isolating.
It’s quarantined people immersing themselves in their culture and not only bringing joy to themselves…but also to me…and unimportant poophead thousands of kilometers away.
So tonight, as I’m drinking fine, non-Italian red wine instead of chococino’s, I want to shout from the rooftops: Grazie mille Italia!!! (I googled that, I hope I got it right…)
Grazie mille, Italia! Tanto amore per te…