At 4:10am Sunday morning I woke up with a curious problem. My head was wet. Not wet,
Another curious problem I discover at this particular moment, as my room is illuminated with lightening as the storm rages outside is that I am being bitten by mosquitos. I can hear them buzzing around my head. I get up, change clothes, get earplugs, spray myself down with bug repellent. And go back to bed where I sleep fitfully until 6:40am- I have overslept my alarm on day one of a cycle tuscany by twenty minutes.
I frantically rush around in the small light of my headlamp when our house alarm goes off. Someone has opened a window without disarming it. Chaos continues as people fumble to turn off the screeching siren. I work quickly to pull myself together. My co-worker and I put bikes on top of the van. It is raining. I go to pull out of our narrow, slightly uphill driveway to a sickening crunch. Sickening because although I am going 5km an hour, I have hit the side of the house with the side of the van. I slowly back up. I slowly pull forward. We drag the awkward Euro trailer up the driveway and hitch on the street. I mourn the loss of my somewhat perfect driving record and we make short work of getting on the road. I turn the ignition over. The van is empty.
I want to swear for every good cuss word I have ever used, but my brain moves forward at rocket speed; I don't even have time to swear. The situations deteriorates as I remember today is Sunday and we live in hickville Tuscany were nothing is open. Gas stations require attendants to pump, "open 24 hrs" is virtually impossible. I drive around San G looking for a rare pay at the pump before I decide to hit the autostrada in hopes for a gas station and a seemless drive 1.5 hours to the cheese farm where our first day picnic is.
I take the turn for the autostrada and in my frantic, frazzled moment, realize I have pulled forward into a line that is a 'fast pass' when I need to pull a ticket. I throw on the hazards, beg forgiveness the very best can in Italian to the cars behind me who make lurid hand jestures as I back up a van and trailer down a steel walled que. Into new line. Get ticket. Go. Find an Auto Stop, do the worlds fastest van fill. Go. Go. Go.
The country side whizzes by at rocket speed and it begins to rain. First there are little drops and then it begins pouring, Ireland-style. I turn on the window washers and try to watch for my exit signs. I manage to turn off once, twice, three times correctly. The day is looking up. And then... a flock of birds decend on my car. I try to yell at them because I see them headed to suicide on my bikes on the roof. I hear a sickening CLUNK and I see that a bird has flown into the side of the bikes, whirled off the roof and died. I pull over in the rain and go running to the dead body of the bird. I might look like a terrified herione in a horror movie, drenched in rain, screaming in the dark morning at the top of her lungs over the bird that has died. Because I love Birds I am especially choked. I wish I could do something for it. It lays at the side of the road. In this moment, I completely hate my life.
I get back in the car, now soaking wet, and finish the drive and cry all the way to the picnic site. I set up the picnic under the small shelter and then lay out 18 bikes in the pouring, soaking rain. I go to the bathroom and look at my face, I look like I have stood under the shower in my clothes all morning. I am exhausted. I am wet. I am very, very weary... and I haven't even met any of the people on our trip yet. I look myself in the eyes in the mirror. It's time for a pep talk. I give my dark eyed circled, ravenous, tired self the very best self- motivating talk I can come up with. I was in the middle of pointing at myself in a very convincing soliloquy on why I am awesome and should get my shit together when I farmer walks into the bathroom carrying a wet dog and we exchange a glance wherein we both understood no words need to be spoken. He looks at me. I look at him. I hear the bus pull up outside with the vacation folks. Time to begin the week.