All good things must come to an end…
Four days at a trade show is quite enough. The fact that you must always be “on” takes its toll both mentally and physically. (Again I know, poor baby, right?)
All joking aside, Italy can be difficult when you’re on business. Your hosts insist on feeding you “mass quantities” at every opportunity, with vino at every opportunity. And while the food is amazing, there’s only so much you can eat, especially when you’re small in stature, not to mention my wife has been living with Crohn’s disease for well over a decade now. And though the food here generally agrees with her, excess of anything does not. It’s very difficult to explain this to your foreign colleagues, whom you don’t want to offend by their generous hospitality. Sheri’s one tough cookie though, and we both learned long ago to always leave a little wine in your glass, or they will fill it right back up, even if it means opening new bottles until you cry for mercy or pass out, whichever comes first.
But we wouldn’t trade it for the world, as its given us memories that we cherish and often reminisce about. For instance, a night at a Verona trattoria with our friend Bill and three of his clients from Japan, two of which didn’t speak a word of English or Italian. Through a hilarious game of International charades, (and a little help from some wicked grappa) we broke down the language barrier, and by the end of the evening were slamming shots of saké and yelling Kanpai! with our new Japanese friends.
Or the time in Firenze with my father, a bartender from India, a gentleman from Lebanon and a young Russian gas worker. (Isn’t that a joke? “Five guys walk into a bar…”) Anyway, we closed down the bar with interesting conversations about our varied countries, our jobs and oddly enough, “Rambo.” (Don’t ask.) The evening ended with the young man from Russia giving my father a 100 Ruble note (about $3) as a souvenir, to which the old man replied, “Do you have anything larger?” Can’t take him anywhere.
The fact that this business has allowed me to experience other countries and cultures is not lost on me, and I appreciate every second of it. Italy gets into your soul, and the rejuvenation it provides is like a steroidal shot of creativity and well-being that is better than any prescription a doctor can dispense.
Each new visit (along with lessons from the venerable Tullia Barbanti), strengthens my Italiano, which is well beyond the “survival stage” now, and into a more conversational realm. Grandma would have been proud.
But as the show draws to an end, so does our trip as we prepare to go home more knowledgeable than before, a few friends richer, and with bellissimo new stone leaving the port of Carrara for Liberty Lake, and eventually into our customer’s homes.
The air miles rack up, as does the boredom. The journey home is never as exciting as the journey there, but at least there’s the opportunity to catch up on some in-flight movies that we never got around to seeing at the theater or culling through a ridiculous amount of new photos, picking the favorites for my Facebook update. And of course the anticipation of seeing my beloved tre gatti.
…that and being able to hang our newest trophy on the fridge. Arrivederci!