August 21, 2015


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"I'm clear enough in the head, he thought. Too clear. I am as clear as the stars that are my brothers. Still I must sleep. They sleep and the moon and the sun sleep and even the ocean sleeps sometimes on certain days when there is no current and a flat calm."

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The world needs people who want to live. This little boy is so alive. Gianluca loves the ocean and the water and running around naked in the countryside because he can. He looks for roly-poly insects and makes up weird songs in the car. He often refuses his nap, not realizing that sleep is a good thing. Sleep keeps you from feeling half-dead all those hours you are awake. So after an afternoon with no nap, you feel the tiredness in his voice and his manner, and his sudden inability to go up small hills with his bike and the frustration that brings. Gianluca is a strong boy, with so much energy. During my time with him, he walked a lot while we discovered small villages and castles, he spent hours in the water, swimming around looking for little fish, and drove his bike everywhere, often with me or his mom running behind making sure he didn't drive into the street (scaring the crap out of me a few times). He was obsessed with my camera, always wanting to be the photographer, but not having the patience to let everyone have a turn taking pictures (patience wasn't my forte when I was a child either) and I can't wait to share the pictures he took. 

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"He put his two hands together and felt the palms. They were not dead and he could bring the pain of life by simply opening and closing them. He leaned his back against the stern and knew he was not dead. His shoulders told him."

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Every night after dinner, he wanted to read about volcanoes. Some day he'll take me to Mount Etna, he said. Gianluca eats a lot of good stuff. He likes meatballs, and chicken, and salmon. He likes certain vegetables, and even entered a "carrot crunch contest" with me (what I'll come up with to get him to eat veggies...), but refuses to eat other things. I told him what I was told as a child: Just try it. If you don't like it, you don't have to eat it, but try it. I'm older now, old enough to pass on advice I was given as a child. That's wild. I ate a lot of good stuff during the trip, too. A man from the area around Naples drove three hours every Wednesday to deliver mozzarella to restaurants and Gianluca's nonna made sure we bought some as well. Twice, she made the simplest, most delicious salad of arugula, bresaola and parmigiano. On my last day, we went to a fish shop and I ate squid and octopus and shrimp and I was the happiest for it. Abruzzo heat was brutal in the afternoons, so after nap time, around 5pm we would sometimes go into town and stop in a café for some ghiacciolo (Gianluca) and crema di cafe (me). It was nothing fancy, but it was my favorite thing to have in the afternoon. (continued in Part II)

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"Now they have beaten me, he thought. I am too old to club sharks to death. But I will try it as long as I have the oars and the short club and the tiller." 

Abbruzzo 2

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