Monday, November 30, 2009
That right there is me and my brother, in front of the Lorenzo Ghiberti bronze doors in Florence, Italy, sometime in the early 70s, as you can tell from the hair, the clothing and, well, the general 70sness of it all. Or, you could have used MATH! I am apparently unable to use MATH, myself, because not only can I not for the life of me figure out when this or my school pictures were taken, but during Thanksgiving I had a bad minute or two when I was convinced that the turkey would have to cook for 1500 hours, which seemed a little excessive and caused my daughter to laugh at me very excessively.
I only remember bits and pieces of the once in a lifetime (of course it was, alas. I have not had the kind of lifestyle as an adult that includes trips to anywhere more exotic than the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont which admittedly is pretty damn wonderful, but sorely lacking in Renaissance art.) trip to Italy when this was taken. We also went to Venice and there is a wonderful picture of us surrounded by pigeons in Piazza San Marco, which I will scan someday, along with the one of my teenage grandmother in the same spot 60 years earlier. And then, I think, we went to the south of France, although perhaps that was another trip? There were several in those couple of high living years in the wild and woolly seventies.
Definitely, this was the trip where my brother decided that he would open his mouth for every picture, which made him far more adorable than I was, which may account for the mildly peeved expression on my face. It was also the trip where my Aunt Ginny went to mass every single day, which I thought was really a little much but my mother considered a great chance for me to bond with Aunt Ginny. It had nothing to do, I am sure, with her desire to get me out of her hair for an hour or two each day. I remember kind of liking church in Italian or Latin or whatever it was - it made it easier to space out, although harder to know when you were supposed to stand up or sit down or kneel. The iron hand of the Aunt took care of that issue.
The perspective of the child tourist is different from that of the adult. I remember that there were one hell of a lot of steps in Italy, and it seemed as if we had to climb them all. The Italians had apparently also cornered the world market on things made of marble, including statues of naked people, which I tried furtively to examine but which my mother whisked us away from as quickly as possible. They were far more interesting, I thought, than the endless stupid flying babies and buildings, of all the boring things, that we were supposed to look at in awe and reverence. My mother was a prude and she knew kids all too well. She would not even allow me to buy a postcard of Michelangelo's David for all that I insisted I needed it for the trip journal I was theoretically keeping for school (this journal never materialized, much like my scanning plans of today) and she pulled us away from the souvenir stand where they had floaty pens of wonder and joy. The lady's black bathing suit fell off when you tilted the pen! We were riveted! To be fair, my mother, after whooshing us away, admitted that the floaty pen was in fact incredibly cool and she bought us each one in Venice - with a gondola going up and down a canal.
And I remember picking the red vinyl off that raincoat, bit by stealthy bit, exposing the white material underneath. By the end of the trip it was pretty close to bald and my mother was not pleased. So I remember church, a raincoat, my brother making faces, steps, floaty pens, pigeons and naked men of marble. Not too bad, I suppose, thirty five (I think) or so years later.