I never wanted to surf. Not once, when my husband or step-children would pick up boards and wetsuits and head for the beach, was I inspired to say “let me give it a try”, not even when friends would visit from Europe and would ask for recommendations on the best surfing beaches or where to take lessons: all that information at my fingertips (because, when you live here long enough, it becomes part of your compass) and never once did I act on it. As athletic as I am, surfing seems really hard. And it requires suffering from bad hair days too often.
My better half might be my husband but my other half is definitely my sister.
I always thought of my little sister as the other keeper of memories only the two of us share. She and I alone can remember the smell of our bedroom; the sound of the lady next door washing up as we prepared for sleep (her kitchen abutted our bedroom); the secret Sunday morning games played in bed; the endless dinners while our parents were arguing. In short, nobody else knows how it felt to grow up in our household but my sister.
For this installment of “A Life in the Day of”, we travel to Brussels to meet Eleonora, woman of many hats, fellow Italian and blogger at “ottominuti“. We chose to publish her contribution during our week dedicated to all things “slow and chill” because, in the middle of a day (and a life) punctuated by the demands of children and long to do lists, Eleonora finds moments, sometimes fleeting, of clarity and, above all, displays an ability to stop the madness and savour the chill.
When I first saw the light of day, my parents were utterly stumped. I was supposed to be a boy and my high-pitched girly wails interfered with their well-laid plans. They only had one name picked out, Giacomo, in honour of my godfather, a famous soccer player and family friend. He and I were going to have a lifelong bond and a shared name.
It might be a bit presumptuous of me to give advice to parents, as I am only half a parent myself – I raised two step-children which, let me assure you, is a very different ballgame than having children of your own. From my 50-year-old perch, this might also sound like the usual “when I was young things used to be better” kind of tale but, looking at the over-parented children I am often in contact with, I am fairly certain they would all benefit from less protection and more exposure to travel. Or life in general.
It’s not often that radio reduces me to tears. In fact, the last time was about 16 years ago when, driving to a yoga class, I happened to catch David Sedaris reading, in his trademark whinny high-pitched voice, his essay on being an elf in a large department store at Christmas. It made me laugh so uncontrollably, tears streaming down my cheeks so copiously, I feared for my safety.
Typically, I will turn the radio on while I drive and my attention will wander in and out: the main news at the top of the hour, an occasional song that will draw me in but, mostly, it’s background noise for my thoughts. But a few days ago I experienced a moment of grace, while whizzing down I-10 at 7 am. A 2 minute interview, part of the StoryCorps series, between a mother and daughter, came on.