Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Nice Hot Shower and Some Mu Shu Pork

I got to Italy after years of hearing about it from friends and I fell in love, just as they'd said I would, with everything.  

With the food, the landscape, the warmth and hospitality, with the food again, the musical language, the Italian dogs, the gardens, the architecture, the crispy little chicken, so moist and tender inside, the perfectly simple, exquisite bolognese sauce, the bruschetta, the artichokes, the ceramics, the olive trees in careful rows, the olive oil, the colors.  

The colors.  

Those soft yellow walls and rich rosy ones.  The patina on ancient buildings, any part of which, if you could lift out a rectangle of wall and hang it in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, would have the patrons gawping with pleasure.

Like everybody who'd ever gone to Italy, I wanted to bring back a souvenir.  I'd have my camera, of course, all filled up with images.  I bought those little ceramic bowls painted with a merry design of black olives and just right for serving my own olives when back in the States.  I wasn't that interested in the elegant clothes or gorgeous leather pointy-toed shoes--they weren't for me.  I certainly brought back some added pounds as a reminder of the luscious meals I'd swooned over!  

Brochures and ticket stubs tumbled out of my suitcase at home as mementos of my wonderful time.  I treasured the memories of music and paintings and would yield to my determination to learn Italian for the next trip.  And for that trip I'd begin a new jar on the bookshelf in which to put all my change, having been told that you can save a lot that way and quite painlessly.  

The most important thing I brought home from Italy, however, was yellow.  

My idea of Italy's yellow.  And since I'd been to Tuscany, it became my idea of Tuscan yellow.  I thought, if I put that yellow in my downstairs bathroom I could transport myself to Italy every single day.  This I would do.  

 The bathroom had been remodeled in the waning days of our marriage by my clever husband.  He did the hard part, setting the dark burnt-brick colored tile on the lower walls and floor and sink area. I applied the paint; it was mauve and it was all right for then.  

With my new vision of Italy in my bathroom I needed to be sensitive to the dark bricky tile--I could not pluck it from the walls and replace it with a lighter, pizza sauce color.  When he left to seek his new fortune, Pete took his handy, crafty ways with him.  But I could paint the walls, yes, I could.  I could make Italy happen in my bathroom with my Tuscan yellow paint.

At Calico Corners where I work, they'll tell you that one of the hardest things to do is to carry color.  That you may think that you know precisely what color will match your wing chair or your Queen Anne valance but chances are you don't. That color you are remembering in your head is not accurate.   

Actually, "they" is me.  I'll tell you that and I'll press swatches on you and tell you to take home the whole bolt and why-don't-you-take-the-hanging-samples, please, please!  Because I work there and can do this and because long ago I read a scientific article about the difficulty of carrying color in your head and it stayed with me.  
And then I went and disregarded all that I knew. 

I believed that I could trust that perfect Tuscan yellow I'd memorized from being in Italy.  After all, I had studied color theory in art school and had just picked out a fine array of lovely yellow paint chips from OSH, among which my yellow would surely reveal itself!  

I was an artist, wasn't I?  

So I trusted myself in this personal situation and never mind the scientific article and years and years of being privy to my tear-stained customers' color remorse.  I chose my perfect Tuscan yellow for the bathroom from only a one and a half inch square of color.  And applied it.  

And ended up with a Chinese restaurant.  

That's right.  You step in there and you want to order egg drop soup and chicken with snow peas and mu shu pork.   There is an unmistakable look of a Chinese restaurant the way that yellow wall sits on that dark, burnt-brick tile.  I can saute garlic and tomatoes in the kitchen and invite the fumes toward the bathroom. 

I can put Puccini on the CD player.  I can make a bouquet of basil, put it in a little Italian ceramic pitcher and place it on the bathroom cabinet top.  But I can't ever talk myself into believing that I have successfully brought Italy to my bathroom.

I've moved on; I'm into heavy acceptance now.  

I've found that you get used to things, that you change your aim, that you regard all things as learning experiences.  I like snow peas.  I like those shrimpy things with walnuts.  Also the spicy eggplant dish, which sometimes even resembles the Italian eggplant.  Well, not really.  But they're both tasty.  

It's all good.

1 comment:

  1. Well Barbara, I liked it then and I like it even better now! :)