This post dates to the 11th of August, the first night of my stay here.
I’m sure everyone here knows the Aerosmith song that goes :“I don’t wanna close my eyes, I don’t wanna fa-all aslee-eep, cuz I’d miss you babe, and I don’t wanna miss a thi-ing.“ Etcetera.
Real over the top sentiment.
That is exactly how I felt, what I was thinking, as I sat on the window sill gazing out over the lights of Florence at 11pm, my first night at the hostel (formerly 13th century hospital and 16th century monastery). This amazing old building is located on a hillside and overlooks rustic, hilly Tuscan farmland. And by farmland I mean olive groves left largely to their own devices.
Even as I write this now, some thirty minutes later, I am lying on my stomach facing the open window. This so that the deep purple-indigo sky and the twinkling row of lights of the city that mark where the sky starts a faded mid-purple, remain in view from the corner of one eye as I write, and right in front of me whenever I glance up away from the page.
I want… I want to hold its hand as I sleep. I want to be with it, for as long as humanly possible.
One of the fixtures of my mind, something I’d call a repère in my life (French, meaning something like a fixed reference point, something constant that you can refer to to know where you are), is the extremely sensorial episodic memory I have of lying on lounger chairs out on a Tongan beach with my mother, to look at the stars.
It was her idea that we should do it every night the length of our stay. One of the most brilliant she’s ever devised, I have to say.
The dreaminess and perfectly meaningful meaninglessness of those nights now remains in my mind like a simple fact/truth of life. Lying under the biggest deep blue sky that merged into the inky sea. The movement and formation of the gathering king clouds, and the riddle of what was cloud and what was sky. Observing how the spill of moonlight changed from night to night. Stars spontaneously jettisoning themselves across some indeterminate distance (I think my mum saw three to my one).
We were alone on the beach, the only people in the world. We were with each other, yet still undeniably, essentially, alone – both of us in our own worlds of experience. (Though if you asked for my mum’s version she’d probably say something like she forgot I was even there :P)
So the memory is from earlier this year, it’s recent. But there are quite a few recent memories that don’t come close to being as instructive and influential as this one. As a brain enthusiast I should not be surprised – repetition is key. It’s very simple.
A holiday touring the cities may be distracting, may be diverting. But it’s the letting experiences saturate you, be incorporated into your rhythms and what you really know of life…. The specialness you can’t deny you’ve lived. This is what makes a view more than a view, more than a photo opportunity even. This is what makes it become a part of you, and you a part of it. And it’s nice to be part of something beautiful and more. I have a feeling this is where making life something you don’t need distracting from comes in.
I’m the only person in an 8 bed dorm tonight. It’s perfect for enjoying the first acquaintance with this view and this place. I hope I can keep up my besotted gazing from the window even when dormmates will arrive tomorrow.
As for now, I’m leaving the window open. It’s a bit nippy, so I hope it works out. It’s the only way I can think of at this moment of having this night scene still touching me as I sleep.
If there’s something good, something worth having in your life, particularly if it is something you find beautiful and special, expose yourself to it, make yourself be with it over and over again. You won’t regret it.