Saturday, May 03, 2008

Learning to Flex

One thing we have learned from living in Italy is the value of flexibility. Through our various and sundry experiences with la burocrazia, holiday schedules, seemingly-arbitrary store hours and various other interruptions, we’ve come to realize that any schedule that we may have tried to keep for the day can be wiped away in an instant. Therefore, it’s usually better to keep things as loosely-planned as possible to avoid not only disappointment but outright frustration. As Americans, this goes against the grain of everything we were taught and adhered to in our former lives, where appointments were to be diligently kept and days planned out accordingly. Here it’s just not feasible.

Such was the case this week. As I mentioned in the previous post, I have a lot to do: research, writing, correspondence, marketing, not to mention the stuff of normal daily life. We knew that our friends Giorgio and Francesca had been considering a visit, though had not fixed any set dates. When they heard about the gigantic Festa del Fritto Misto to be held for four fat-filled days in the centro storico of Ascoli Piceno, Giorgio immediately timed the visit to coincide with that. For Giorgio, all things must revolve around food. Va bene; I’ll work around that, sending them off to the festa and suchlike activities, thought I. As if.

They are wonderful people; we love them dearly. They are incredible friends who are, in fact, like family to us. And so we just accept that part of their collective character as a couple is to create a whirlwind wherever they go. Schedule? Beh. While saying, “just do what you need to, we’ll be fine” in one breath, they are saying, “we’d like visit Loreto,” and “our friends Lilli and Franco want to meet up with all of us at the festa” in the next breath.

Since they were here for just a couple of days we decided to be flexible and go with the flow, rather than offend or not spend time with them. They have a taken a liking to Ascoli but want to see it with us; they want us to show them the town and direct them to our favorite spots. They want to see it through our experiences, which is very sweet. So my piles grew aswork got shoved aside and we enjoyed the compagnia of our Italian “famiglia” instead. In doing so we also learned something about our own city…but that is a story for next time. In Italy, flexibility is an important virtue, but one that will present rewards in the process.


Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

That's the funny thing about piles of work--they just kind of sit there until you're available ;)

Glad to hear you had some down time with your friends/famiglia :)

Beatriz Macias said...

Go with the flow, I say...
As a Colombian, I have always known this, many of my American friends in the States were always surprised by my lack of planning... I always replied that we just live the moment. It works for me and I am glad it works for you!

Valerie said...

Sognatrice, unfortunately it's true and my piles tend to become invisible to me after a certain point. But friends/famiglia come first, anyway.

Beatriz, Americans get antsy when things are not planned out, probably because the concept of time is so different. I prefer the laid-back attitude myself.

Anonymous said...

Hi Valerie,
Seems like a *no-brainer* to me!!!
The work will still be there.
You're so lucky to have both work AND Italian lifestyle. Enjoy!!

S.R. Piccoli said...

Valery, "flexibility" is just one among many words to express the Italian concept you are talking about ... ;-)

Out of context I have tagged you here. It is a meme. You have to copy the question texts and provide your own answers in a post, if you like, and, at the end of it, tag someone else (like I did). You probably know about memes. I didn't. This is why I am explaining, just in case ...
Rob (Wind Rose Hotel)

Valerie said...

Carol, you're so right!
Rob, definitely have to learn to go with the flow around here! I'll check out the meme! Thanks. I think. ;)

Pauline Kenny said...

"Americans get antsy when things are not planned out, probably because the concept of time is so different."

Gosh, ALL Americans are uncomfortable if things are not planned out? Amazing.

Valerie said...

Pauline, OK...I was generalizing from my experiences and upbringing. Sort of like when I generalize about Italians' obsessions with their digestions. Or about Republicans.