Milan is, by far, my least favorite part of Italy.
It immediately reminds me of New York on a day I am annoyed with New York. It has the least amount of charm and individual personality of all the places I’ve been. I have, on my trip, found Italians to be very hospitable. The Milanese are far less so.
For the sake of convenience, I am staying in a business hotel for my final night. It’s very nice, well-appointed, even posh in comparison to some of the other places I’ve stayed, but I’d much prefer a homey bed and breakfast.
I had hoped to be able to attend an opera at Teatro de la Scala, but I hesitated too long and the reasonably priced seats sold out. The concierge tries to find me something on what more or less equates to the black market, and comes across no availability for less than 500 euros. I am in no way willing to spend that kind of money. But perhaps I can find a better deal from someone selling last minute outside the theatre. So I put on my makeshift dress outfit — a long sleeve black top designed for exercise, long black cotton skirt and the black leather wrap belt I bought in Florence. I wear flats instead of hiking boots for the first time in more than a week.
On my way toward La Scala, I traverse the renowned Via Spiga. It, like so many major high end shopping streets, makes me slightly uncomfortable. Salespeople who look like they should be modeling for Vogue and dresses that cost three months of rent are just not my… what? Choice? Preference? Bag? Ilk? All of the above, perhaps.
Outside La Scala, I see no one who seems to be trying to pawn tickets and eventually I give up and wander into the gift shop for a consolation prize. It is while perusing opera CD’s that I have one of those moments wherein a simple word or fact becomes elusive. You know those moments, right?
I am searching for a recording of Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” in honor of my quarters in Lucca. The name of the composer, however, is not coming to me, despite the fact that I do actually know who composed that particular opera. So I ask a gentleman who is also browsing through the shelves.
And he is so appalled at my ignorance, he about vomits on his Gucci loafers. I confess, I have a small moment of schadenfreude. Despite having just spent days surrounded by saints, I am not one.
Eventually, I find what I’m looking for and make my way back to the hotel, stopping off for dinner first.
Daylight savings time begins this night, and I have a flight at 11 a.m., which means expected airport arrival is 8 a.m, and I have to get a train to the airport…. suffice to say, I’m up early. And there’s going to be the time zone at home with which to become reacquainted.
By a lovely stroke of luck, I have a whole row to myself on the plane to Atlanta and am able to curl up for a series of naps, in between which I poke at the tiny movie screen on the back of the seat in front of me.
We land at Hartsfield-Jackson airport and I go through customs and back through security before boarding a plane to Chattanooga, the last leg of my travel. Tomorrow, I go back to work, back to deadlines, back to the real world.
I don’t wanna.
My birthday is in two days. Thirty-one.
When we land in Chattanooga and I walk out of the gate area into the tiny airport, Joe is waiting for me, with a kiss and a shoulder on which to rest my travel-weary head.
You’re so nice to come home to.
Now, can we go away again?
Where to shall I wander next time?