Never in a million years did I think I would always remember Thanksgiving of 2020. Not because Covid changed everything. But, because I had a small but important breakthrough in my Italian studies, and because I had a mishap.
First, the good news: I am still struggling with my language study. Anybody who thinks learning a foreign language is easy is somebody I will never understand. But, I’ve been working extra hard for the past few months and am pleased with my slow but steady improvement. Only I can measure this progress, it probably wouldn’t even be apparent to a teacher.
But, yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting in this glorious location on the outskirts of Florence with a new Italian friend. She is a Florentine and, did you know, Florentines have their own special dialect? I had heard about it and some people have demonstrated it to me over the months, but I had never “caught” it heretofore.
But, yesterday, while Maria was speaking, I heard her say “po ho” instead of “poco” and I knew something had clicked in my brain. I asked her to repeat it and she caught herself (she is trying to help me with my Italian and I’m trying to help her with her English) and she said “poco.” We laughed and she told me she could and does say “po ho” in the typical Florentine way (they substitute an H for the C in words like this) throughout Tuscany and is always understood. She said if she speaks that way outside of Tuscany, nobody would understand her.
A Florentine would say “Ho ca Ho la” for Coca Cola.
But, I caught it! Maybe my ear, which is not finely tuned I am sad to say, is finally catching on, along with my brain.
Secondo: the mishap or l’incidente: I was in such a rush to meet Maria and grabbing my mask, my bag with my secateurs (because on my way to meet Maria I was going for a long walk in the hills and planned to cut some colorful foliage to bring home), my trash to take to the street receptacle, that I failed to grab my apartment and building keys. And, of course I did not realize this until I had passed a very enjoyable afternoon walking and talking with my Florentine friend. When I arrived home, about sunset, I realized my mistake.
Long story short, I learned some new things about living in Italy yesterday as well. I have lived in my current apartment for 2.8 years and fortunately have never forgotten my keys before. In fact, it is an obsession, because I don’t want to be caught with needing to figure out how to get into my apartment or asking for help. I am fiercely independent. To a fault, I would say.
But, despite all this, in the back of my mind I always assumed that Adolfo, my genial portiere (porter who lives on site), would have a set of keys for all of the apartments in my building. But, it turns out he does not. I was able to reach my lovely landlord and she was able to come let me in, but not for a couple of hours and so Adolfo buzzed me into the lobby and there I sat for 2 hours on Thanksgiving, waiting to get into my apartment to meet on Zoom with another friend named Maria (she is of Italian heritage but is American and is actually named Marie instead of Maria in the English way) in America and then later join another small dinner here in Florence.
All’s well that ends well and it was a well spent Thanksgiving that I will never forget.
PS: In my current motivated language study, I’m reading many delightful books for children in Italian. Coincidentally, a book I had ordered arrived yesterday and was waiting for me in the lobby. I was able to open it and sit reading it during my 2 hour wait. Time pretty well spent. It was funny how many fellow palazzo residents came and went during this time and although I don’t know most of them, because the way the building is set up I never see anyone except my next door neighbors, most of them said “salve” or “buona serra” or “arrivederci” as they left the building to walk their dogs or whatever. They must have wondered about the Americana sitting in the lobby in her coat and scarf, reading a paperback book. This is not the usual happening in this building. But only one person asked me what was going on. Fortunately, I could tell her in my new Italian ability. Tee hee.