My musings on Truth and Beauty were interrupted yesterday. I had to go shopping. In Italy, it's mandatory that you take gifts when visiting. Never mind that I am spending hundreds of dollars to journey south to meet the family. I needed a gift. There are also rules...I am getting this from my teacher at the school...pastries are superb...not "cheapo" either, but very expensive pastries...this did not seem like a good idea as I'd have to buy them more than 24 hours in advance of giving them, perhaps even longer. Also pastries would be abundant, given the season.
Flowers are acceptable, but would be surely doomed as the pastries. This left the last option: a plant... and orchid being the most valued gift option.
Two days ago, I bought one a beautiful white one. However, imagining myself carrying this tall, lanky beauty on a five-hour train ride began to concern me. I also checked out the street view of my people's house and discovered the one I previously thought was theirs is not. Now I was really concerned because the orchid would have to be potted. The house I thought was theirs was adorned with plants. The one that is really theirs has a few, not thoroughly joyous plants on the balcony...and so yesterday, I bought another plant. More sturdy, already potted, lovely I think...well, take a look...the wine bottle is there so you can get an idea of the size:
Now here's the thing. Fabio is picking me up on Tuesday morning at 6. I thought I could just walk around the corner for a taxi, but my conversations with the taxi drivers did not convince me that the cabs would be lined up there as they are during the day. I have come not to rely on the words that say si' and the gestures and look in the eyes that say you are, in fact, dealing in unreliable probabilities.
Therefore, Fabio will be dropping me off at Rome's very large ( as it appears from the map) train station at rush hour carrying a large day pack with a change of clothes, a purse with emergency gluten-free food not likely to be found in rural Italy, a secure fanny pack with money and tickets...and a plant. I believe I've decided on the shorter one as it will be easier to hold in my on the five-hour train ride. I have drawn the line at buying the plant a $100 ticket for it's own seat.
I am trying not to picture myself trying to get my ticket out of the very secure fanny pack (small metal loops locking the zipper) while holding the plant. I imagine some Roman commuters will have something entertaining to talk about Tuesday morning at work.
You will notice that the buds are beginning to flower on the shorter plant, which means by Tuesday it will be wider. And I have to say that wondering if my gift will be good is adding to the stress of wondering what to expect at my $50 a night hotel by the railroad tracks (amenities to include a hair dryer and that mosquito net)...and how will the plant and I then find our way to Maierato...only 20 miles away, but without any formal transportation system linking it to the world.
And now there is the question of figuring out what to do with the plant that doesn't go.
The man who sold it to me raved about the white orchid's beauty in a manner that would rival the feeling conveyed in the painting of the ecstasy of St. Teresa that I saw at the Borghese. As a Facebook friend noted about another artistic rendition of St. Teresa's ecstasy: "I'll have what she's having."
There is no messing around with something of this magnitude in a country were e stands both for ecstasy and empire.
I'm not sure how to end this. Except perhaps to say...to be continued in #25.1: "Me and My Plant on the Train to Maierato." Coming to a computer near you sometime this week.
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