Snapshots

The electronic board overhead listed the number of remaining available seats for each selection. The numbers for each listing quickly decreased as we inched forward in line, much like the NASDAQ boards had done the day before. A bit more slowly, perhaps, and certainly less alarmingly. The group had democratically elected a first choice, Ogni Maledetta Domenica, but I was secretly pleased to see the number fall to zero before we arrived at the glass-fronted window. Anything relating to football makes my eyes glaze over. A hurried consultation followed, then Fabio reached the counter and passed his credit card through the cutaway space.
"Erin Brockovich," he said. "Four tickets, please."
The anonymous ticket seller tilted his a computer screen in our direction, pointing out the groups of four seats still remaining. The others decided that the outer right, somewhere around the midpoint of the theatre, would be the ideal viewing position from among those available.

I didn't care where we sat; I was in a bad mood, having been awake since 2 a.m., starting off my day with an argument with my professor, followed by the usual annoyances of my flaky assistant and the mess that is Very Big Project. I'd spent four hours in the car for a one-hour meeting, the high point of which was handing out little bags of Easter chocolates to my team members. Added to a stupid, inconsequential argument with Dario about stupid, inconsequential things, and the accumulated stress that had rubbed my nerves raw, I wasn't in the best frame of mind to truly appreciate the experience of the Medusa, Bologna's first multiplex, though it was like nothing I'd ever seen before.

Tickets collected, we entered a futuristic round atrium. Maxi-screens flashed huge images of REM in concert at us from 20 feet above, and the noise was almost deafening. It felt more like a discotheque than a movie theatre.
Sleek, carpeted corridors led off the atrium like the spokes of a wheel, with concession stands selling everything from popcorn to pizza in between. We looked around, slightly dazed, and glanced at our tickets. Corridor A was diagonally off to our right. "We'd better go and find our seats," someone said.
Feeling as though we'd been teleported into a sort of sci-fi airport, we headed down the concourse--er, corridor--to the appropriately labeled doorway. We quickly found the seats marked on our tickets, and settled in for our business-class flight: headrests, cup holders, ample leg room, stadium seating giving a perfect view of the screen even if a player from the Virtus (Bologna's champion basketball team) happened to sit in front of us. Fabio made a run for drinks and popcorn, and the room went dark just as he returned.

After the movie, I was in a much better mood. Nothing like a bit of folksy, gutsy, David-vs.-Goliath fun to make even Very Big Client seem less threatening. They may be annoying, but as far as I know they aren't poisoning anyone.

It was sweltering in the theatre. No one had expected temperatures in April to rise to 29 C, and the air conditioners weren't yet functional. We hurried outside and stood around wondering what to do.
It felt like the kind of evening where we should go to one of the stands selling watermelon slices, except it obviously wasn't the season for it. Cristina proposed a jaunt to the park in Via Arcoveggio, right in front of the building where we used to live. It has a large pond, and benches, and it was the kind of evening that made you want to stay outside as long as you could.

Fabio and Cristina went for a walk around the lake, swallowed up by the darkness as soon as they left the halo of the lamps. I had destroyed my feet by walking around stockingless in an unforgiving pair of shoes, so Dario and I sat on a park bench. I leaned against him, and we chatted about this and that, with long, comfortable silences in between. I snuggled closer and he put his arm around my shoulders.

There were a number of couples making their way around the path, even at that late hour. Eventually we saw a pair of familiar silhouettes appear in the light of a distant lamp, Cristina easily distinguished in profile by her protruding belly, home to little Riccardo (name subject to change, of course) until late July. We sat for a while and chit-chatted, watching the patterns the moonlight made on the water.

Very Big Who? What work? What stress?

Sigh.

 

The air was just the right temperature as it brushed against my skin. The metallic green of my bicycle glinted in the sun; the only sound was the occasional dog barking or birds chirping in the trees. We rode along the blacktop, winding through fields planted with the usual assortment of miscellaneous crops I can't identify. I stretched my arms up to the sun, momentarily leaving the handlebars--then I had a flash of Meg Ryan in City of Angels, and grabbed them again. It was such a perfect moment it seemed too risky to court tragedy.

As we rounded a curve, we saw a man standing in the road, checking the wheels of his bike. I peered through my sunglasses.
"Isn't that your dad?" I asked Dario.
It was indeed Giorgio, who was following our same route in reverse. He had stopped to rest, and to check out his brakes, which made a terrible squealing noise every time he squeezed them. We convinced him to retrace his path and ride with us on the way home, and so the three of us lazily pedaled along together. It was already quite hot, although the cool breeze kept it from getting uncomfortable. Across the green fields, in the distance, we could see the Apennines still capped with snow.

It felt appropriately like a rebirth, that Easter morning.

 

I took off my glasses and rubbed my eyes. The VCR clock told me it was nearly 1 a.m.; for the second night in a row I was up late working on my paper. I needed to be up early the next morning to pick up Melissa and head out to Mountain Client for another round of interviews.

My head was swimming with notions of dialogic and monologic communication, ethics and models, names like Grunig and Bruning, Botan and Huang, not to mention Heider and Lazarsfeld and, of course, Newcomb. I had written only eight pages of my twenty-page opus, but I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer. I shut down my laptop, leaving my books and papers where they were on the sofa, ready for me to plop myself down again in their midst just twelve hours later for a tour-de force that would take me until just before class to finish my paper. After twenty-seven hours of consciousness, I would finally manage a two-hour nap on Friday morning.

 

I'm grateful to Dario for insisting I take a few hours away from work and study, since most of my time recently has resembled the last snapshot more than the first two.
If all goes well, I have one more week of utter chaos before I can start breathing again.