Sunday was a strange day. A good day, but strange in the most lovely way.
It started out perfectly with a ride to the beautiful pastry. The best part about this almost-ritual is that the ride there and then home totally gets rid of any guilt that may occur about eating pastry because it's a longish ride to get there. We work off any calories we take in.
Then after lunch I got cooking. Well, I got baking because I had promised to bring cookies to a dinner we were invited to that night. The oven has decided to become temperamental and so it took longer than I expected and we got to their house a little late.
They met us at the door with the announcement that because the weather was so beautiful they decided to move the dinner (with two other couples) to a garden at the edge of town. They had everything packed up already so we all grabbed a few things and headed back downstairs. Biagio brought his guitar and there was a big jug of wine along with the food. We managed to get everything and five people stuffed into their little Fiat Panda and off we headed to the garden.
As we drove I looked out the window of the car and marveled at how wonderful life is for us. I took in the traffic and buildings, listened to the music on the radio and lost myself in the incredible blue of the sky and thought how much I love the life that I have now. Which doesn't mean I didn't love life before. I don't think I can explain very well how full my heart was at that moment. I was with friends and my love, and my contentment felt like a warm blanket on a cold day. Safe, happy, secure.
We had to park a little ways away from the garden, because in little towns here almost every street is too narrow for even one way traffic so there's no place to park except for actual parking lots. So we unpacked the car (which should have been easier but ended up as risky as the packing it all in had been) and walked up a hill and back down to a gate in the wall. Naturally there was an uphill climb to the garden and when we finally reached the top we rounded the corner of the wall and...
Leif's Swedish friends in Florence, disappointed that they haven't been able to participate in any of our wedding celebrations, decided to throw us a surprise party. The shouts of surprise were accompanied by a pelting of rice and the opening of the prosecco. In my mind every party should start this way. The prosecco, not the rice.
No one seemed to believe that we didn't have a clue what was happening. They thought it was all so obvious. They were willing to have the fictitious dinner only on a day we were available. The amount of food we brought in our car alone was too much for 8 people. The giant two gallon jug of wine...did I really think we could drink all that?
In retrospect the signs were all there. Even for Florence we seemed to take a kind of roundabout way to get there. Katarina got an SMS and suddenly we had to stop for gasoline (someone forgot the prosecco in their fridge and had to run home for it) and she didn't roll her eyes or anything as Biagio fumbled with the machines at the gas station. In fact, she was remarkably calm in a situation she would normally be a little tense about....being late and all. It was a two gallon jug of wine for pete's sake. "Oh," Katarina said as we walked past balloons hung on the gates to the garden, "someone must have left them after a birthday party before this!" I didn't even wonder about the balloons. I just thought that some kid probably had a great day yesterday or earlier today.
Maybe my problem is more a lack of curiosity than of not paying attention. I was just enjoying the day so much. Why mess it up by thinking too much? Right?
It was a fabulous party. I'm using that word very mindfully. It was the most international of the celebrations. There were Swedish wedding games played in English and the whole group sang a song they wrote for us in Italian. We ate food and laughed and sang and danced and had a wonderful time. This was a group whose connection is not that they're Swedish, necessarily, but that they are all people who have chosen to live in Italy. They've fallen in love with people, yes, and gotten married. But they've also fallen in love with Italy and that more than anything else binds them together. And I am mostly welcome to their group, not just because I love one of their members, but also because I love Italy too.
I went to sleep that night marveling, as I'd done all day, on just how wonderful life has become. Each of our wedding celebrations has been a kind of love fest. Each one completely fitting for it's place and the people in it. The memory of these days and these people are precious to me. Last night I was overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends. I wanted to hug everyone a thousand times, but even here in Italy that would appear a little extreme so I held back. But I hope they know that I wanted to hug them a whole lot more.