Friday Night in Italy – Vernedi Notte

OMG – what a long day! As I posted earlier, I was hot on the internet trail. My landlord insists that my computer is the problem – and of course I think it is her internet security settings, but I am never the winner in such arguments so I was sent off to the computer store.

Ms. Landlord does not realize how directionally challenged I am, but I knew this would be a journey for the damned. And it was.

ImageWhat should have been a simple trek to one of the gates out of the city and 5 minutes to the computer store was a maze of incomprehensible obstacles to me. Least of all was this bridge over the railway. Which I only found after wandering about a mile out of the way.

But remember how I said I would walk through a burning snake pit to get my work done? Still true. I’m walking. On stumps. Even when I see no fire or snakes. But I know they’re there…

Finally I arrived at said computer store and presented my problem. Roberto is supposedly familiar with my landlady and her security system – he set it up. And wowsa – I’ve got Roberto looking at this mess! Roberto and his incorrigibly long not-so-appealing-looking hair. Hmmm.

And I’m dying on the vine from the long, long walk and there’s no where to sit.

After an inspection and a few interruptions, Roberto announces that my computer won’t connect to their system either – which (surprise, surprise) is set up just like my landlady’s! Yikes!

Now for the verdict – if they keep the computer for 3-4 days – and charge 50-100 euro – they MIGHT be able to fix it – but not for sure. And by the way – they need the power cord, which I did not bring with me.

Pause here for a deep breath.

First of all, Roberto needs to wash his hair. Second, he needs to recognize when an old lady needs a seat. Third, I might have fallen off a turnip truck sometime in the past, but it wasn’t yesterday. So I ain’t buying this. All I can picture is how far I gotta walk back on these freakin’ stumps I call feet.

So I smile since I am a gracious Americano and go on my way.

And back I go to the safety of the city walls and home in mid-town Lucca. But I am so discouraged I could cry.

I know I said in my earlier post that I need to rethink this whole internet situation and make the best of it. And the universe is telling me it is so. I’m just processing here. Which brings me to how I decided to process…

ImageAfter a brief rest and another load of laundry, I thought I would go back over to the Lucca gate and rent a bike to ride on the wall to practice before Maria Betta (Mary Beth) gets here. I found a place that rents bikes for 3 euro/hour so that wasn’t bad. But I was still a bit nervous as I knew this would involve being around more people and traffic than before when I tried the bike.

The bike guy got me a slim model with a low seat – I told him I need to be able to reach the ground fast – and off I went. It was not good.

First of all, the seat was probably too low. Yes, I could reach the ground, but it forced my knees up way too high when the pedal was at the top of the cycle. I was like a big person on a little kid’s bike with their knees up to their ears.

I was full of trepidation after almost smashing into the plant surround of a restaurant less than a block from the bike store, but I thought, what the hey, I’m doing this. But I had to walk up the ramp to the wall – it is quite steep. And just getting my foot over the center frame and back off again is a challenge. Those of you with normal mobility may think this is a small thing, but my replacement knees do not have the usual range of motion.

Even when I tip the bike toward me and try to mount it, my foot won’t go quite high enough to clear that center frame – yes, even on a girl’s bike. That’s something any child can do – and I could too back then – but not now. Believe me, it makes you feel like an incompetent cripple, but that’s how it is.

So I got to the top of the wall and managed to start riding. I was immediately aware of my limitations. I felt like I had no control and this wasn’t like the barren promenade last week at all. There were people and pets and cyclists everywhere. I felt like I was in a target zone and was about to mow someone down any moment. And I almost did.

Honestly, riding a bike is supremely simple for most people, but here I was out of my element and I was terrified. Thankfully it wasn’t packed on the wall, but it was crowded enough at times. When I was confronted with a row of people spread across the avenue all I could do was come to an awkward stop and let them pass. I could not maneuver around them. And a couple times I braked and yelled a warning out loud. Yes I did! And people just had to jump out of the way!

One poor little dog almost got his neck snapped in half when he ran in front of me and I couldn’t correct. I hollered and the owners jerked him back and I came to a screeching halt. Much too much excitement!!!

Eventually I had ridden far enough that it was just as evil to go on around as to go back – the wall is about 4 kilometers in all. So I kept going and kept focused on making it back in one piece. There were so many pretty views from up there – but I wasn’t about to stop to try to photograph them. I figure I’ve already seen enough Italian rooftops for one lifetime anyway.

And here’s the thing. I was trying to get ready to have a leisurely ride with Maria Betta when she joins me next week. But guess what – it ain’t gonna happen. I’m done. I did it. I rode the wall. For the rest of my life I can say I did it. Whoopee.

Now, when MB gets here, I’ll show her where to rent a bike and I’ll send her off for a glorious bit of alone time with a journal and a camera. She’ll love it. And I’ll wait in the cafe with my sketchbook and my feet firmly on the ground – no matter how much they hurt. And besides, there’s no shops or restaurants up there, so it isn’t like we could stop off for something memorable along the way. It will be contemplative and beautiful for MB – without me! Quality time… alone… the way it is meant to be…

Oh -and when I returned the bike I found that I had been gone a whole half hour! Still 3 euro. But the bike guy commented, “hey, good time!” “Ha!” I replied, “You’re just trying to make me feel better. I’m terrible on the bike and just went once around…”

“No, really,” he said, “the usual time for one lap is about 40 minutes, so you did really well!”

Damn! I must have been focused on getting back without some sort of tragedy. Mission accomplished! And I don’t wanna see another bike again for a good long while!

As I said, Potato-cake-dom avoided again, yet another day…

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Billy D
    Oct 06, 2012 @ 07:54:42

    From the local paper – “Mrs. Potatoehead’s Reign of Terror on Two Wheels…..parents encouraged to keep pets and small children indoors…”

    Yeah, I think the stumps need to remain on terra firma!

    As frustrating as it is with no internet it may be time to focus on the original blog- your journal! I know you have work to accomplish as well, so keep trying. Just remember you are in Italy!


  2. MaryBeth Tipton
    Oct 07, 2012 @ 17:27:28

    My first time in Italy, I packed no tennis shoes. I only wear tennies to the gym or when I am walking the bike path in Lancaster. Courtney and I went all over Italy, fashionably strolling along those narrow streets, and loved every minute of it. We even spent a day in Lucca and rented bikes and biked along the ramparts. However, this time, I am bringing my tennis shoes so that I can start my mornings off with a walk/jog around the ramparts…and apparently, solo. 🙂 Lol. Starr, I am glad you gave it your best effort! See you soon!


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