02 March 2011, Florence and Lunigiana, Italy
In the train station there are all sorts. Workers, students, Germans, Africans, Romanian gypsies, lovers, laughers, fighters, criers, androgynous teenagers with topiaries for hair in cool shades of rose and violet, grandmothers, spinsters, bankers, tourists, dreamers, and thieves… All are loved by at least someone, and some are loved by very many. Every one of them has an untold story, and yet none knows himself a part of someone else’s romantic picture, mine.
A glimpse into someone else’s daily life for even just a moment is the colorful fantasy that travel encourages, the cinematic rendering of a life unknown, a journey into another state from which I can always bring the stamp of a souvenir, a frame to keep forever, a small piece of someone else that earns me greater compassion and breaks down walls of ignorance. In life I have fallen into the hand of ignorance’s trickery, placed judgments and caused harm, but only due to a border of isolation and not from pure spirit. Photographs, trinkets, quotes I jot down in a messy scrawl on the train that whizzes past monuments to other ways of living are tokens of a life well spent, ignorance the prominent symptom of a life well wasted.
Perhaps the only thing as awe-inspiring as a direct experience with the divine is being blessed to bear witness to another’s. Last weekend in Florence was the Universe’s gift to Teri Love, and certainly to me, for I absorbed every last savory morsel of sweet Grace along the way, the sweet seal of a friendship that will carry us over miles on this Earth and timelines in the Beyond.
For my dear, gentle friend, Florence was a bittersweet proposition, blue-grey stone and marble structures in which deep and sometimes somber memories of her son are indelibly etched. Although my maiden voyage, a blankish canvas was still soiled with expectation, a force to which I lose time and again, I unable to move beyond the trappings of my mind and its intrigues. Again, I was focused on planning and organizing. This time, it was a dinner party and overnight invitation by a friend of my cousin, whom I’d not yet met, and never would in fact. Coordinating our arrival and the plans I’d laid was of the utmost, or so I’d thought. But apparently this great Energy, the one that gives with the love of mother’s touch, had a design of its own for Teri Love and for me.
Tyler Love was her beloved, her heart, and now her Angel, his short life of 22 years the inspiration for her wine company, Gioia. He had spent his college years in Florence, the birthplace of Gucci, and then joined Gucci itself. For Teri, Florence is textured with memories of Tyler and his friends, a passionate road cycling group who loved food and wine, Ducati motorcycles, and fashion’s gorgeous leather fare, alongside the art toward which there is no immunity.
And then there was Chee Chee, the absentee dark angel. The haughty “city chick” from New York who runs with a fast crowd in Florence, the one who’d insisted on a dinner party and sleepover, the one who’d laid the weekend out for us, and the one who left us standing at the train station, refused our phone calls, and disappeared into the ether. Her role is the sort of biblical presence depicted in art and scripture, the illustrative crossroads, the fork in the road… There we stood, gorgeous bottle of wine, luggage, and dachshund in hand, ripe with the life experience that says “let go,” the sort that comes into play upwards of 40ish… what lends itself to understanding a greater plan at work where panic has no place.
Steps away was Hotel Universo, with room for us and Lincoln too, warm smiles at the front desk to light the way into Tyler’s Florence, where we would play and delight together in his honor, and to shop and taste and drink and wander the streets, finding Tyler’s two symbols in the most unsuspecting places. Yes, hearts and ladybugs sought us out, appearing at nearly every corner, guiding our weekend all the way through.
The beckoning silk Moschino scarf at the department store, ladybug pattern circling round and round to form a giant heart of beetles at the center, the carousel in the center of town with mirrored hearts reflecting colors and images of light and love, and then his favorite meal at his favorite restaurant, ravioli stuffed with pecorino and pear at La Giostra… The owners, having remembered Tyler as if the past five years were frozen in time, celebrated the memory of a beloved regular guest with us, Teri’s healing lovingly encouraged by a celebration of his life. Magic like this is scripted by Spirit, and received in the absence of matter’s agenda’s and attachments. It is the very void in which the greater Everything can be shared. At nearly two in the morning in pitch darkness, our attention was once again captured by the wonder of the night, the sound of fluttering, screeching bats at play encircling the ancient cavities at the church in the piazza near our precious little mod-style chartreuse and black accommodation.
Back at Podere Conti, Teri and I, still reeling from the magic of the Angels in Florence, opened Chee Chee’s unused hostess gift, a lovely Barolo, paired with aged pecorino and tomino. It was only after the last of the spice-scented bubbles circled down the long drain in the footed soaking tub that I looked up in the foyer, Teri passing through at the exact moment, to find the reflection of the chandelier tossing a confetti cascade of hearts around the corridor, the prelude to the bedroom suite’s shower of ladybug reflections. Neither of us spoke, humbled by the presence of pictorial language, the silent communication between two worlds that takes tossing plans and reason aside to receive its glorious message.