It’s that friend you really want to love. She is beautiful, strong, smart and savvy. She is worldy, amusing, entertaining and makes good pastries. She is musical. She is athletic. She is full of all sorts of information, ambition and wisdom. She is just someone you want to be near.
The problem with her is that she is completely unreliable. She constantly and consistently lets you down. She cancels plans, shows up late, arrives underdressed and unprepared for occasions. She gets too drunk at parties, loudly swaying inbetween your other sober guests, telling them embarrasing stories and insisting on another round of shots. She flirts with your boyfriend, reads your mail, borrows your clothes and then ruins them. She is That Friend.
You swing between loving her and hating her. She has all these enduring characteristics that should make her not only a fabulous human being, an all round good gal, a Jane of many talents, a woman of good moral fabric. And she sits and holds your hand through a difficult period, and the very next day she wont return your calls or texts, borrows a huge sum of cash from your wallet without you knowing and slaps you in the face when you see her next.
Your Friend is Italy.
So many people love her. Rave about her. Are romanced by her delicious liquids and rich history. She has chruned out Politicians, Artists, Philosophers, Architects of note. She attracts people globally to come and play in her vast and stupefyingly beautiful backyard. She is loving, patient and kind.
She is an also an absolute bitch.
She produced mobs, gangs and men who enjoy grabbing womens asses on crowded trains. She produced poor drivers and angry people who scorn you for not knowing their language. She produced vegetables served only doused in ridiculous amounts of oil. She throws her unusual weather patterns from extremely hot still sticky to gusting wind and fog that will change in a heart beat according to her own mood and desires. She loves to laugh haughtily at the scores of people in her home. Fools, she mocks them at times, drifting in just enough to produce a prolific head wind on a 10km, 10% hill climb.
As I depart from her, standing at the airport leaving me with a luke warm cappuccino, a poor excuse for a pastry and the aching desire for a North American breakfast, and the sight of words written in english I pause. Her send off is a lurid mix of a big hug and kisses on the checks to a swift kick in the ass, a middle finger in the air and a big old F*** YOU.
Rolling back into the warm arms of Canada I know I will spend some time pondering and reflecting on our friendship and its relevance, impact and importance of these last two months. Coming off of a foreign escapade always finds me a little nostalgic, a little sad, a little puzzled, very happy, incredibly excited and somewhat relieved. I can't think too much about her and yet she demands my attention and thought, still. I don't understand her cunning ways and secretive smile, and yet she leaves me with more to chew, swallow and digest.
Or, to borrow the words from Sarah Mwila, after I spend some time contemplating, I will "remerge after time and will focus on making me a better form of me."
I live in Calgary where I own a small business, instruct fitness classes and call myself an endurance athlete. I am the proud owner of four bikes, an expensive wine education, and a strange fascination with the colour orange. I have a long-time love of football, baking, and coffee. I put my minor in creative writing to use occasionally both here and in other publications.
I live with my tall, handsome and often-hungry professional triathlete husband.
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