New Year’s Eve. “Capodanno” they call it here. Fireworks are going off in the distance.
Having just come back from the energy of Paris, I don’t feel compelled to go downtown tonight, but will follow my tradition of spending the evening writing. Part of that act is the reflection on the past year, and for 2009 the novelty is in the last 6 months, since I moved here to Milano in June.
When I decided to move here, I very consciously wanted to have relationships. I wanted to form friendships and know people. I didn’t want to remain on the outside surface, as tourists do, but rather touch hearts and have mine touched. I left behind my treasured communities in Seattle, and came here where I had none.
Reaching this 6-month mark, I started to think about all the people I’ve gotten to know in big ways and small. I see people at school. At some of the stores I frequent. I’ve met some while traveling. And now, even see familiar faces while just out walking in the neighborhood. I’m creating what I wanted!
Allow me to introduce you to some of the many people I’ve either enjoyed a single, rich conversation with, or have had the pleasure to create a friendship with:
JUSTINE - Kenyan. I met Justine soon after I arrived and now I shop at that store a mile away just so I can say "hello" to her. Here she is cutting prosciutto for me.
EVELINA, BRUNELLO & GLENDA - Italian. These are the three I work most closely with at NABA.
PIOTR & EWA - Polish-German and Polish. We met in the summer when our tables were an inch apart and I was eating octopus. We've been getting together once a week or so ever since! Eva is a Pharmacist and Piotr is a retired conductor from Teatro alla Scala.
NARIN - Thai. Architectural faculty member from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.
PETE & ERIN - Australian. We met on the bike trail in the morning, and they slept on my fold-out bed that night! They were biking around Europe for 6 months and relying on the kindness of strangers.
ORIETTA - Italian. Concept researcher and trend forecaster in fashion and accessories. An instructor at NABA.
LYDIA - Swedish. Lydia makes the way smooth for NABA's agents.
DOMENICA & PAOLO - Italian. They have the Spezia Pasticceria that creates those incredible pastries I've shown. They're two blocks away from me, and we met when he did a search on the pastry shop and found my blog. They make the best pastries in town.
ANASTASIA, EMANUELE & ENCARNA - Greek and Spanish. Emanuale is the Consulate General of Greece. We shared a table and the dance floor at the Thanksgiving Dinner.
ENZA - Italian. Born in Sicily, raised back-and-forth between there and Australia. She and her husband own the corner grocery where I buy my water, and we chat.
TOMA - French, but has lived in Italy for years. He's established in fashion and teaches at NABA.
BARBARA - President of the Benvenuto Club.
BRUNELLO - Italian. Vice President of NABA.
LILY & TOM - Irish. My cousins from my family's historic homeland in Fermanagh County, Northern Ireland.
LEE - British, but she's been in Italy a long time. Lee's been working in fashion for about 30 years. She was my Fashion Design instructor in 2008 at NABA.
CIRO - Italian. A One-man Chamber of Commerce for the town of Casamicciola on the Island of Ischia.
SAM, PATRICK & MOMO - French and ? These three are fishmongers down the street from my hotel in Paris. Patrick, in the middle, speaks some Spanish, so between that and sign-language, we all had some laughs.
DAN - American. From Ohio University, working with NABA. Executive Director and Professor of Geography.
EVELINA & GLENDA - Italian, though Glenda lived in the U.S. for 8 years. These two coordinate the myriad details of the NABA summer and semester programs.
LUCA - Italian. We've discussed "Italian Design Methodology" and the differences in teaching methods between Italian schools and U.S. schools. Luca is NABA's Design Program Coordinator.
DIMITRI & VERA - Russian. Architects, instructors at NABA.
ENIEL - Cuban. Moved to Paris 5 years ago and speaks some of 5 or 6 languages. Loves history and was my personal tour guide in Paris.
MADALENA & EMILY - Italian and Australian. Madalena lives in the mountains near Milano, and teaches Italian language courses. Emily is a student in my class.
AHMAD - Pakistani. Living in Venice and assisting his brother with his restaurant, "Noemi".
FRANCESCO - Italian. Architect and instructor at NABA. He's engaging and involved with the students.
GISELLA - Italian from Sicily. She has a Siciliano bakery just down the street. Sometimes I'll buy little regional specialties from her.
HASSAN & SEBASTIAN - Iranian and German. We've been in Italian language classes together.
IDA - Italian. We met at the Benvenuto Club Christmas Bazaar, which is a fund-raiser for several local charities.
JAMES - British. He's opened up a shop here selling textiles and is taking Italian language classes, too.
ROLANDO - Italian. We met on the train to the airport. I was on my way to Seattle. He was on his way to an EU gathering of parachutists from 10 different countries. He was in the Army in the mid-60s. He pulled B&W photos of his father out of his suitcase to show me.
MARZIA & FRIENDS - Italian (Sicily), Russian and ? Marzia's on the right and after we had gone out for "apperitivi", we met up with her friends at another restaurant. Marzia is also with NABA.
REMO - Italian (from the south). A Materials Engineer. We've had some good conversations and I sat in on some of his design classes at NABA and accompanied them on field trips.
OZDAN, SEBASTIAN & EMILY - Turkish, German & Australian. In this photo, they were doing a skit in our Italian language class.
NORM & JOE - Irish. My Guinness drinkin' buddies in the far northern reaches of Ireland.
JAN - Norwegian. He got talked into wearing a "Babbo Natale" hat at the Scuola Leonardo language school's Christmas party.