The Red Bench is one of those places everyone knows about. So many lives have shared moments on its surface. Teenagers sneak a cigarette or their first kiss. Local pensioners stop for a breather after ambling up the hill on their morning walks. Dogs stop to sit on the patch of grass below. Colleagues stop to take in the view on their way up or down the hill, trying to remember that there is more to this place. Everyone passes it on their way up to errands in Montagnola. It's a special spot on this golden hillside, precious to everyone who has spent time nearby. It is merely footsteps from the place Hermann Hesse wrote masterpieces and painted beautiful splashes of color, recreating the light. Moments here are what most remember when thinking of Montagnola.
It's been a strange end-of-May, and seems a long time since the voices of the students rang in the air, taking up the silence with their chatter. It was indeed a long goodbye. The TASIS seniors had their prom, then a 'posh' dinner, then their commencement. My colleagues had our SoLiTaFo Nights, combined with dinners, a Roast, and far too many "X's last night" events. By my final night in town, I was ready to stop saying goodbye. The intensity of a bubble is difficult to explain - it's like a small town, but of colleagues, not necessarily friends, and of people you may only know for ten long months, not for decades. But, as you do, you know who will be in your life and know who won't. I was not, however, filled with the melancholy of leaving a special place in time, as I have been when leaving other places. I can't see myself missing the stress, the expectations, the clutter that accumulates when working at a boarding school. I hope that the things I will miss I can do via the Internet - banter about writing, exchanging jokes and laughs, seeing photographs - and, if not, that people show their faces somewhere, sometime in the future.Bertani. The GDOT (Get Drunk on TASIS) bevvie of choice. I think I have singlehandedly consumed two cases of this rubbish in the past month alone. There's a shop in Como that sells this for 8 EUR per bottle. It ain't the best wine in the world, but it is (oooh I loathe this term!) drinkable.
So my girlfriend Andrea joined me for a few days in Scotland before heading back to Seattle. Matt was a rockin' tour guide and took us for a day in Edinburgh and a gorgeous walk up The Cobbler near Loch Long. For some reason, it doesn't rain when I'm in Scotland. Matt says that I am global warming. Fine by me, I say - we had a wonderful day of walking. We stopped at the amazing Loch Fyne Oyster Bar - delicious oysters, four types of salmon, mussles, lovely house wine - highly recommend. Andrea left on Friday after a day shopping in Glasgow, where we all shocked to see RELAX and CHOOSE LIFE t-shirts in TopShop and leggings, legwarmers, belted stripy shirts and huge neon colors in all the shops. Even the posh shops. I am mortified that this is back in fashion again. We even saw Jellies and jelly bracelets. Oh. My. God.
So am now up at Matt's mum's, clad in sweats and a sweater as it's freezing, with a day til we go back to TASIS for summer school. I'm looking forward to revisiting the TASIS that I fell in love with in 2003 - frolicking with middle schoolers in the Swiss mountains - and also wondering just how sugar-coated my memories are. We've got a rockin' staff though, and Matt will be there, bagpipes in hand and plenty of NHS sedatives should the kids be too crazy (HA!), so will be a good way to sever the ties and let go for awhile. "Woo" is still simmering in my head, and I'm making periodic adjustments but am so, so anxious to have endless hours to pour into its shaping.
We've been toasting for weeks to New Beginnings. So here's to it.