Liguria - Slow Summer

We were late to wake up, almost every day.

We’d lay in bed and watched whatever was on, maybe it was Northern Exposure, which in Italy was called Un medico tra gli orsi. We’d zone in and out, the big old tv droning in the background as we kept snoozing in and out consciousness, the windows open, the thin linen curtains softly blowing up and down in the sun-drenched room with the terrazzo tiles, and we’d roll in and out of it, like the waves we would soon dip our toes in.

Like cats we’d take our time, open our eyes one by one, stretch out luxuriously. We would walk towards the sounds of the beach and the rocks, leisurely, through the town, as scooters zipped by, and on them only little dudes with helmets barely tied, one leg bent and the other straight, flip-flops. We’d walk by that house with that big black dog in the courtyard, framed in bougainvillea, pink and purple. Everything we ate tasted slightly of sea salt.

We watched the sun bounce and shimmer on the sea as we walked down towards it, the perspective muddled, as if the sea came up to us, we’d just woken up, after all, and hadn’t had breakfast yet, just a long gulp of water straight from the bottle kept in the old fridge door.

We’d carry a book in our arms and we’d stop at one of those Italian cartolerie that only exist at the sea, shops that attract you with the promise of shade and cool and keep trapped inside to sell you candy, cigarettes, magazines, beach towels, novels in German.

We’d start to see friends as we walked down the main avenue, some buddies smoking on a scooter, someone lazily flirting with a girl with visible tan lines. Then we’d see the crew, not an un-bleached head of hair in sight, not a single pair of unpeeled shoulders. Half the crew with a sandwich in hand, panino alla cotoletta and table tennis. Foosball and dozens, hundreds, thousands of empty little cups of Estathè. Behind us there’s five tables of men and our fathers playing cards talking to each other in a thick Genoan accent which is so thick it almost sounds foreign to our ears, it sounds like Portuguese maybe, if we knew it, and then underneath, on the rocks under the deck, next to the waves whooshing and swaying and draining through the tiny rocks and shells, we’d hear the reassuring, constant din din din of kids screaming, laughing, crying, playing games.
We’d play Uno and briscola and scopa. Around us our young mothers and younger grandmothers. Someone would try to catch a nap, someone would play cards right by the sea, someone would hurriedly remove their beach towel from an incoming rogue wave.

We’d read under the sun, we’d read big fun novels by Stephen King and William Gibson and we’d fall asleep again. Everything was hazy. Years later we’d drink beers and eat the same sandwiches, the crew gone, replaced by couples, two-by-two-by-two, never in odd numbers, six friends, eight friends, twelve friends. Houses rented and occupied, invitations abused and all the cookouts and the trips to the fishmonger’s and the panetteria. Still, the haze.
The parties in the old town, with the fry-outs and the trofie everywhere. We’d read whatever we had to read that year, but not really, because we’d always find it boring, we’d play backgammon on the rocks with the click-clacking and the dice shaking, two-by-twos, eight-by-eight. We’d say Well its too hot I’m going in and we’d say Wait for me.

We’d bring racquets and chess sets, mountains of focaccia, we’d drive our dust covered cars two the hardest to reach beaches. We’d try fishing. We’d climb through rocks and use bits of rope, we’d build tents with our towels and little mounds of rocks one on top of the other. We’d use sunscreen now to make sure our shoulders wouldn’t peel. The first of us would bring their little kid, and we’d be curious at first, a new level to add to the haze, a new sound to the bleached out cacophony of it all. We’d not be able to sleep in as much. We don’t really sleep. We’d watch the little kid grow older, and watch her sleep in, and we try to not make much noise at breakfast, she’s going to be late to wake up and while we play cards with each other, any day soon, she’ll join us at the beach later, when she stretches out and wakes up and comes on down.

We’ll be waiting.