So my excitement level is pretty high right now. This week I think I've finally broken through that invisible barrier between me and some of the Italians in Florence.
Every time I babysit near Ponte Vecchio, which is in the touristy center of town, I go early enough to have a coffee. Maybe I should say that differently. I get there early because I was brought up with "early is on time, and on time is late." Which really doesn't work in Italy at all, as their on time has a full half hour leeway built into it and even if you go beyond that no one holds it against you. I'm working on being less rigid about time, but it seems to be such a primeval urge with me that it's almost impossible for me to ignore it. I feel I've begun to live a slower life because I'm only five minutes early most days. One of these days I'll even set my phone clock to the actual time instead of five minutes early. See, it's a sickness.
That's probably enough about my weirdness. Of course if you've read any of this blog you already know I'm probably walking a thin line between normal and crazy.
So a couple of days a week I end up at a fairly elegant cafe bar for a little caffeine bump before becoming one with my inner three year old. They have beautiful pastries and a long, curving marble bar where all the neighborhood swells come to have their breakfast before heading off to work or for their morning constitutional. (side note: many in fact bring their dogs and sneak them in. If it's possible to sneak a golden retriever into a room so narrow two people have to turn sideways to pass each other) They're all dressed beautifully and talk together like they're old friends, subtly turning their backs towards anyone vaguely resembling a tourist, ie me. The barista eventually deigns to take my order and deliver it without actually being rude, but darn close.
This has been going on for months. I'd come to accept that I would always be something of an outsider there, even if they were becoming a little warmer with their Buongiorno's. Then, on Tuesday I walked into the bar and the woman behind the counter said "Good morning! Cappuccino?" Trying to act all casual, like we've been doing this for years I replied "Yes please." (I hope I don't have to remind you that this was in Italian) We exchanged genuine smiles and she told the barista my order. He turned and smiled at me and when my coffee came there was a heart on it. Now every time I go there they know my drink and there's always lovely pictures in the foam.
I'm pretty sure this means I've moved from the possibly-not-tourist-but-definitely-stranger category to someone-from-the-neighborhood (even though it's not my neighborhood) but not quite a regular like on Cheers. It's a good goal to have, even though it will require me to speak a lot more Italian.