Saturday, September 3, 2011

Domenica Felice - Happy Sunday

Boston city center on a Sunday with hurricane
Sunday in Italy was always the same. With deserted streets and silence, as if the outside world was temporarily paralyzed. Beautiful but melancholic at the same time. Here in Boston, a big hurricane on its way (like Irene last weekend) can create a similar effect. Still, despite the weather warnings on the radio, on the web and on the roads, here on the east coast of America, a few courageous surfers were challenging the big waves of the ocean and a few people were throwing private parties on their boats. So, not quite the same as in Italy but all the shops closed, the public transports dead and being forced to stay at home drinking tea and eating biscuits brought me back to Sunday a few (ok many) years ago.

Turin city center on a Sunday morning
Sunday in Turin (Italy), always the same, with mass in the morning at the local Church with Grandma (later dad) falling asleep half through the service. Me trying not to star at anyone but what else could I do while asking God to forgive me for my bad deeds? Then 10-15 minutes before the end, me looking at the watch with the 12:00 pm stomach's cramps, hoping that the minutes would go faster and that I would soon be at home diving into my mother's risotto. Sunday lunch, always the same, lack of conversations, the TG's news and incredible boredom. My slow paced Sunday would continue with food (even if I was not hungry), a meat dish from heaven served with fresh vegetables cooked in simple but delicious sauces, followed by seasonal fruit, already washed and cut for me, served in a bowl. Double espresso, thank you.

Then, just like in the opening scenes of I am Legend, where Will Smith and his dog leave the house to find a eerie lifeless and silent world, I would start looking for signs of life, first in the house, then outside in the neighborhood. Nothing apparent. Two available options: (1) Join the Turinese people's catwalk in Via Roma in clothes you want to show off (2) sleep for an hour or so, until TV program Domenica In (variety show with half naked women dancing and top models interviewing politicians) wakes you up and then try reading a novel while Heather Parisi was singing "Disco Bambina"

Later in life, Sunday in Turin was the same, except for when friends were coming over to our house, same  meringhe with cream pastries and salatini (mini pizzas and other savory snacks), same conversations, same dozing off in the afternoon and incredible boredom until 6 pm, when the TV screen with Domenica In shut down, mom was in the kitchen pouring lemon tea in the cups next to my favorite butter biscuits and I was convinced I had gotten away with it but no. It was time to go to Church!

After Church, same routine, my mom hungry, my father not, me taking my mother's side. "Yes, I will eat the minestrone soup!" My bedroom still untidy, my homeworks still unfinished. Same, I have forgotten to review the previous chapters. My mom: it is midnight and you are not in bed. Same, I have forgotten the oral exam! Same, OMG, tomorrow is Monday! Oh no, if I get pulled into the examination, I will make a dumb show! Then accept the guilt, prepare the books for tomorrow. And ask God to pick someone else for the oral exam.

Then I grew up, moved to London and Sunday became a non existent day. A day for either recovering from heavy drinking the night before or for drinking more at someone's else house to feel better about the hang-over, as my British friends would put it. A day with most shops and the local Tesco grocery store open, just in case you need one more drink.

Then came the PhD Sunday at Imperial College. A large deserted building, long empty corridors and the vending machine dispensing cheese and onion (or salt and vinegar) crisps every few minutes or so. Once inside, from time to time a  new PhD face would appear, behind a computer screen but nobody would say anything to anyone. That would be it. Sunday was equal to dead silence.

When I moved to Boston, Sunday turned into a beautiful day. A day for cooking meals at home, for going on long car trips, for walking on trails, going sight seeing, camping in a park to watch a show next to people who have brought their mobile house with them, swimming in lakes, walking on the beach with a straw hat and picking up heart shaped shells. Sunday with him turned into time for love, for outdoor fun and, above all, for pleasure.

Today Sunday, whether we like it or not, has turned into Tronk's day. The time for his discoveries, for looking at his laughs for seeing him running around with daddy in the streets of whatever town, at the playground, at Costco. But last Sunday, that was not possible because of the hurricane so I had to come up with a few tricks to keep the boy entertained, while daddy managed to build a brand new cabinet for our small office room. Tronk and I played with a train station and a large car park we created outside his bedroom door.  And we spent the rest of the afternoon producing abstract art on a white board. That way we managed to stop looking outside our windows and by the time Tronk and I were done with the bottom of the sea (as Tronk called it), Irene was gone.

Tronk first creative attempt
I must say Irene was very kind to us and I feel we were incredibly lucky. Still alive, with no injuries, no house flooded and we were not one of the 4 million people left without power.

Perhaps, in more simple terms, Sunday is (and always will be) a space for what matters most at the time, whether that is indulging to leisure, making sins, praying or simply just surviving. A day to forget that the day after is Monday.  Or to remember that this Monday is a national holiday and that it is ok to let everything else go. Happy Labor Day!

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