A Red Moon Rises

Blood has been spilled this day. 

And by blood, of course, I refer to the melancholy state of damper that oozed itself out from under the blanket of the day. 

For some reason everyone was absolutely wiped the entire day, as if the heat of the summer sun evaporating all manifestations of energy. What happens with a massive decrease in energy? 

The rise of crabbiness and irritations. 

We all seemed to be at each other’s throats, and there was naught that could stem the tide of quick responses and a lack of interest in attending to each other’s needs. No nap, no cup of coffee, no slices of apples, no handpicked figs. None of these beautiful things could plug the growing hole of disinterest. 

During the Italian course that predominates the morning, we began to speak in raised voices towards each other. Eighteen eyebrows would rise in annoyance over the one who wasn’t listening to instructions. Legs rocked back and forth in subconscious attempts to run away. There were so many faces of exasperation that were exchanged, it was almost uncountable. 

After the two hours of italian came the clearing of the table for lunch. Again, same situation: no one could count correctly the number of plates we would need, there was miscommunication regarding what silverware we would need. 

Instead of this being a cause for laughing at ourselves and for dancing around in the confusion that is the massive language barrier of our group, we internalized this frustrations and turned it into passive-aggressiveness. 

Our lunch was taken in silence.

William Shakespeare, the beautiful happy puppy, bounced on in and assumed his position under the table, routinely cycling through the toes he could reach, giving them sincere and affectionate licks. Usually this is endearing, William is a hard creature to be annoyed with. But curt words were issued under the table, and he departed quickly, sensing the mood. 

Instead of doing our afternoon Greek lessons and art history, Jenny decided to devote the time to catching up with homework, hoping that the damper was a result of stress. It did alleviate a bit of the stifle, but when we piled into the car to bounce on down the hills to the city of Assisi, there remained traces of disinterest and lethargy. 

We arrived in Assisi rather much later than intended, and sauntered our way down the massive hill to the basilica, stopping on the way to get some gelato and talk about our intentions for observation within the basilica. 

It might have been the pistachio gelato. It might have been the wonderful breeze that whispered through our group and slew away the sweat from our brows. It might have been just the physical movement of walking down the hill after spending the day inside and stagnant.

It might have been being in the basilica itself; walking alongside Jenny, watching her point excitedly to various frescos and do her best to contain her energetic explanation to a whisper. It might have been Kevin, one of the greatest fifteen year old Chinese boys you might ever meet, coming over to where Maria and I were staring at an early gothic fresco to whisper, “Guys, you can see his butt!” in the most unholy of manners. 

It might have been the rotund, red-faced guard having to almost forcibly remove our group of eight from the lower basilica after asking us five times to leave. There is something absolutely wonderful about watching Jenny stretch the rules; this wild, curly-haired woman with so much knowledge about art and so much passion for one basilica make time her own. 

We made our way up from the lower basilica into the upper one, and spent a large amount of time perusing around and observing the characteristics of Gotto’s frescos, eventually being rather kicked out of the upper basilica as well because of closing times. 

With an amazing amount of renewed energy and buoyancy, the eight of us skipped out of the church, laughing and jolly once more. Jenny immediately walked up to the metal barriers that prohibited visitors from taking a shortcut out of the basilica to the top of the hill, and attempted to remove them in order to push past. 

“Jenny! What are you doing?” we laughed. She shrugged with a smile. 

“It’s so much faster, though!”

The van ride back through the hills was suddenly exhilarating. Things were funny again. A giant moth flew into the van and decided to perch on the window beside Kevin. He spent the remainder of the ride in a posture previously unrealized in the human anatomy, bent over as far as he could go from the direction of the window, his neck craned backwards in order to gain more distance. 

This was hilarious, there’s no other way to describe it.

We made fun of him the whole time, telling him all the horrendous things that could and would happen if the moth made a move. As the van took speeding corners and inertia enacted itself upon the members of our van, he did his absolute best to avoid being thrown against the window as the van turned, making a myriad of painful sounding noises as he counteracted the inertia.

When we got back home, there was a message waiting for Jenny that announced that our two beautiful cooks–Lydia and Rita–wouldn’t be home for dinner. 

Jenny about died of laughter when she heard this. 

“The cooks–won’t be home–for dinner–!” she bellowed, bent in half. We gathered around her in quasi-alarm, many of us joining in with her laughter.

“For dinner! The cooks!”

I’m still not entirely sure why this was so hilarious, or at least to the degree in which Jenny presented it. But her laughter and goodwill was absolutely infectious, and our already-heightened mood improved two-fold. 

We spent the dinner huddled around the table, excitedly dishing each other random courses from the fridge and leftovers. Jenny would enter into the dining room with wild-haired flair, announcing:

“The second course, m’Ladies and gents!” 

We cleared the table and cleaned the kitchen, everyone pitching in to make a chaotic and not-as-efficient system of clean-up, but with the resumed laughter that follows the chaos.

Daisy, Valerie–magical wonderful beautiful sixteen-year olds from China and Taiwan respectively–Maria, and I jaunted ourselves to the verandah. The cool summer night in the Assisi mountains surrounded us in breathable refreshing air, the stars peeking their way out from the salmon and red clouds, the sun setting in it’s dramatic fashion. 

We listened to music and told each other stories, laughing at each other and at the general atmosphere. Valerie and Daisy went inside and Lydia and Rita came home, joining us out on the verandah to watch the stars and tell adventure stories. 

Gabriel made Brazillian cahipiña cocktails of kiwi, lime, and vodka and brought some out for us. We spent the rest of the night sipping and watching the most breathtaking red moon rise, huge and prominent against the dark blue starry sky. 

Yes, there was blood shed today. 

But there were band aids of gelato and rebellion and atypical dinners and laughter.

Peace and Blessings, 

Josie

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