Italy as a Buddhist Meditation (or “the Green Day concert that wasn’t”)

Interesting title, yes?  I will try to explain…

Sunday we went to Bologna for the I-Day Festival, with our favorite band headlining – Green Day.  I had bought the tickets online months ago (95 euros) and even talked about it in an earlier blog.  This was a big deal to us and we had been looking forward to it since before we moved here (imagine your own all-time favorite – the Beatles or the Boss or Lada Gaga).  Here’s what it took to go to the festival: 1) since the last train back from Bologna leaves about the time Green Day was to take the stage, we had to figure out how to get home (couldn’t stay overnight as Steve had work in the morning), so 2) we decided to rent a car (98 euros, plus gas and tolls); 3) to get the car we left home a little after 8:30 a.m. and walked 40 minutes to the bus station, took a bus (12 euros) to the Florence airport, then took the shuttle bus to the rental car place (will be repeating in reverse to return); 4) Steve bravely navigated us to the outskirts of Bologna where we promptly got lost and 5) in my baby-Italian eventually got directions from some nice pedestrians.  We made it to the fair grounds about 1:00.

There was already quite the line of folks waiting to stake out a good spot on the lawn (all open seating). Green Day wasn’t scheduled to appear until about 9:00 (there were earlier bands), so we had planned to go into town on a bus to have lunch and go to my (still) favorite gelateria – La Sorbetteria.  At this point I’ll make the long story shorter – after unsuccessfully trying to get into town on a bus, we gave up and decided just to go into the fair grounds and pay too much for crumby fair food.  After quite a wait in line I was reminded that some bathrooms (in this case porta-potties) in Europe are still the hole-in-the-floor kind (ACK!).

MUCH to our surprise, the fair grounds were huge, and had an impressive array of (normally priced) food selections from across the globe.  There was sushi and African food and Indian food, and of course, many varieties of Italian food, to name a few (photo, below).  We chose a seafood restaurant (yes, they pretty much built an entire restaurant in a huge tent) and had the most delicious, typically leisurely (2 hour) Italian meal.  Never in a million years did I expect to get to eat mussels in a garlic and white wine broth and the yummiest assortment of fried seafood (“frito misto,” pictured below) at a Green Day concert!  So far, so good (well, after the bathroom part)…

At about 5:00, after seeing how many people had entered the actual concert area, we decided we’d better go stake out a spot and hunker down until Green Day arrived.  Just staking out a place was its own cultural experience, but there we were – the anticipation building. From the number of Green Day t-shirts in the massive crowd (pictured below), it was apparent we were among fellow fans (we had also spotted shirts on the bus and in the airport in Florence).   From the title of this post, you already know where this is going, but that’s almost beside the point – it’s what happened after that that’s the real moral of the story.

At about 7:30 (after Social Distortion left the stage), someone came out and matter-of-factly announced (I wasn’t sure I was understanding correctly, but I was) that the lead singer of Green Day was ill, the concert was cancelled and please exit to your left.  Steve and I were in shock – what the heck?!?!?  Were they serious?!?!?!  Was this a joke?!?!?!  After all the time and effort and expense it took to get here?!?!?!  And then it happened – we expected to look around at 20,000 other upset people, all angry and disappointed (and maybe an overturned porta potty or two) – but everyone else looked….fine.  More than fine – they looked to be in the same happy, festival-going mood they were in 5 minutes earlier.  Wow.  It was a little hard to comprehend….

And then we wondered – how could we let ourselves be angry and upset and disappointed when everyone else looked so nonplussed?  We couldn’t.   And that is how Italy is a form of Buddhist mediation – teaching by example how to let go of attachment and expectation and suffering, and just going with the universe as it unfolds.


Are We There Yet?!?

I am getting antsy.  My body is still here in Albuquerque, but my mind keeps wondering off to Italy.  Like right now.  I have papers to grade.  But here I am writing about Italy.  I just can’t help it…

So I am going to allow myself a short daydream about some of the Italy things to which I am looking forward…

I am looking forward to the day after we arrive at our new home in Florence (the day itself involves 3 plane trips on separate flights with cats and a drive from Rome to Florence, then 4 flights of stairs with cats and bags, and presumably serious jet-lag – hence the “day after”).  From Google Earth it looks like there are at least three pizza places within a block, 2 supermarcati and the Sant’ Ambrogio market I have written about in an earlier post, all close by.  (And probably some cool non-food things, too).  I can’t wait to explore OUR neighborhood!  (Wow – seriously – FLORENCE, ITALY will soon be “OUR neighborhood” – surreal – super cool – Wow…).  And after we eat, we can take a walk and use our “Friends of the Uffizi” cards to see the “Birth of Venus” and “David” and…Wow…Wow… I am seriously blowing my own mind!!!  Just a walk from our home: 

I can’t wait to go back to school (yes, I am a geek, but hear me out).  My Italian has seriously been slipping away.  I was having Skype classes on Fridays, but now that I am working full time, the only days I could manage a class were Memorial Day and one last class on the Fourth of July.  It’s definitely not enough to learn anything new and really not even enough to maintain what I’ve learned.  So, because I really want to become fluent, and NOT because I am a geek, I can’t wait to get back into language school.  We have three to visit (and choose from) once we get settled.  Me going to school in Bologna: We are totally looking forward to Sunday, September 2nd when we are taking a trip back to Bologna to see Green Day (and eat, of course).  Green Day (one of both Steve and my all time favorites) is the headliner at the I-Day Festival in Bologna on the Sunday before Steve’s school starts (I still can’t figure out what the “I” stands for – any ideas?).  We can get there as quickly as 37 minutes (on the fastest, most expensive train), but will likely take a slow/cheap inter-city train and enjoy the trip (and begin a more frugal life on one salary, for now).  Before the concert I will get to take Steve to one of the amazing restaurants I discovered when I was in Bologna for school, and of course there will be a trip to La Sorbetteria Castiglione (insert daydream about flavors of gelato here).   How cool is it that our favorite band is playing in one of our favorite towns with the world’s best gelato, shortly after we arrive in Italy?!?  Too cool for words, that’s how cool!!!    Green Day (& Steve in well-worn Green Day concert t-shirt – pics of gelato flavors to follow once we arrive):

Okay, I think I have daydreamed about Italy enough to sustain me through another week of not being in Italy.   As always, thanks for coming along for the ride!  Ciao!

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