Time Marches On
For adults, every year seems to pass faster. For kids, a year is a long time. As with so many things in life, it’s all about perception.
While our perceptions of time change with age, marking its passage is a tradition. Birthdays, wedding anniversaries, deaths, important holidays, and a massive pile of other memorable events get stashed in the “annual celebration” file.
In my ageing perception, another year has passed in the blink of an eye.
One year ago, I kissed Calypso goodbye and left France to avoid another lockdown by moving to Genoa. Italy was not in lockdown, and my friends kindly provided a place to hang my hat and sit out the pandemic.
I was blessed with a task – to finish an apartment renovation. A month of cleaning, installing a kitchen, assembling cabinets, and other furniture kept me out of trouble. It became increasingly clear I would be going nowhere fast.
Early days were like van life in a house. The gas was not connected, so I used the stove from my van to cook and heat water for bucket showers. There is nothing like standing in a brand-new shower and pouring water over your head to generate a belly laugh.
The plumber arrived to connect the dots and send the paperwork to the municipality requesting a gas connection with the flat complete. It may come as no surprise that the interval between paperwork and contact seemed an eternity. Perception. Five weeks of anticipation seemed like forever.
Finally, a friendly employee of the gas utility arrived to make the connection. I had no idea what was involved and watched them unpack a small bag of tools and meters. They snipped a wire on the ON/OFF switch, turned the switch, applied a new wire and said, “OK.” The meter confirmed the flow, and 5 minutes later, they were off.
Five weeks of anticipation blown up in minutes. But I had hot water! And you can only imagine how long I stood under that rainshower, enjoying my first real hot shower in over a month.
There was an additional bonus on top of my good fortune. The garden needed an extreme makeover. Years of storing random items meant the place was packed. Less than half the area was available for the kids to play.
One person’s “stuff” is another person’s “shit.” And who am I to judge? Except I did. I entered a phase of junk removal that has yet to be completed.
Ninety-three steps lead down to the recycling and garbage bins. I cannot tell you how many times I descended and climbed those stairs, but if we average it out as two per day, I have been up and down over 700 times exclusively for junk removal.
Pieces of rusted steel. “Stuff” found on the street that may have been interesting before it rotted. Enough insulation for a small room that, after a dozen years, was no longer usable. There was more rotten wood than you could find in any 20 Genovese gardens.
I am sure it really was “stuff” when it was stored. But use it or lose. The “stuff” was “shit,” and my legs benefited immensely from the stairs.
Veteran’s Day, Christmas, New Year, umpteen birthdays, and many other annual events came and went. I sent out hundreds of online job applications and even had the pleasure of receiving a handful of rejection letters. The others ghosted me and did not offer that simple courtesy.
The first buds of spring arrive early in Genoa, and I watched figs flourish and prunes plump. Sifting and cleaning construction bits from the soil, I created a new garden for tomatoes and lettuce.
I was allowed to travel to Switzerland to recertify my van for another two years and get some work. Three and half weeks building a yoga retreat marked my first proper social interaction in half a year.
As a traveller, it seemed odd to re-discover strangers. The sugar on the cake was a workmate whose joie-de-vivre and youthful energy was infectious. We laughed off the frustrations encountered due to indecision by the boss. Repeating a task became normal. Why do it once when you can do it twice? Thank you, “Rog,” you are a breath of fresh air.
France started to allow people to enter beginning June 2021. I zoomed over to Nice as soon as I tested negative to visit Calypso. A joyful, albeit tearful, reunion ensued. I bounced back and forth between Genoa and Nice all summer, and Calypso and I enjoyed holiday time together.
In late June, my age group came up, and the first jab went in the arm soon after. The second followed in three weeks as Italy was keen to get as many fully vaccinated as fast as possible.
Back in the garden, we planted Vietnamese chilli peppers, mint, two types of basil and sunflowers. They were a hit with the wild parrots!
And then summer was over, la r’entrée, and Calypso back in school. Another blink of the eye.
The good news is the French get lots of school holidays. Calypso and I just had a fantastic week together in Genoa. It coincided with the Festival della Scienza and three excellent workshops, visits to the aquarium and museums.
We capped off the week with a small party in the garden – now mostly free of junk. Calypso designed and implemented a treasure hunt going to great pains to translate all the written clues into Italian for the four hunters.
One year. It seems to have passed in about the time it takes you to read this. Read slowly.