Sunday, August 17, 2008

[making gelato] and the dangers of creativity

There are some very interesting people around and sometimes they’re right beside us all along.

I’d include Welshcakes in this, fluent in French and Italian and with immense knowledge of those cultures as well. Her CV, her early years and later moves have shaped her character and now she’s carved out a niche which is sustainable and it’s where she wants to be, as long as health remains good and bureaucracy allows.

Into this came I, some time back, privileged to share a portion of her life but unable, at that point in time, to put very much back in, to my chagrin, a matter I intend to resolve when I can find my own sustainable base. For two such individual characters of different backgrounds, politics and genders, I don’t think it was total disaster and I hope she doesn’t regret the time spent together [too much].

On the other side of town I’ve come to know a young man, Georgio, who has his own talents in his own modest way and he’s interesting on the topic of cuisine/kuchina, gelato making and pizza design, with his own take on language, culture and many other topics. From another town, he’s carved a niche for himself in both places and lives not far from where I am currently holed up.

I think what I like most about him is that he is solitary, not entirely by choice and at the same time enjoys great warmth from those about him. He’s creative and recognizes and respects that in others. Whilst he’s a humble barman on one level, a person the crass would dismiss out of hand, his solitariness does not exclude others - it’s just that people are wary of someone like that who’s done it his own way and for whom every step forward, every break he gets, is accompanied by an opposite vicissitude.

The net effect though is that he does go forward.

Italy seems to me admirably suited to accommodate human tragedy. Sitting, drinking Nasto Azzurra and nibbling on nibbles, discussing shades of difference in the Italian language, discussing architecture, painting and kuchina on a 40 degree plus day, when virtually the whole population was at the beach enjoying what they saw and we both didn’t as la dolce vita; in the early evening, with the periphery of the northern Italian storms arriving, the umbrellas and awnings flapping wildly in the wind to the point we all had to race outside and batten them down – this was no ordinary experience.

Some people live lives of quiet desperation and wish and hope, in that Walter Mitty way, for some excitement or break from the tedium. Some live from tragedy to tragedy, blow to blow, punctuated by bouts of joy. Some might even be happy and contented, surrounded by family and friends – I wouldn’t know about such people but I wish them well.

Then there are those fey characters we meet, ships out on the sea who come into port for a brief time and then must move on again – think of the experiences they’ve accumulated, like barnacles which can’t be scratched off, not willingly itinerant by any means but ready to meet that someone and to settle down - yet something in the firmament will not allow this to ever happen.

You can’t call such people depressed, as they usually bounce back but they are, ultimately, tragic and a little cold, a little unapproachable until they themselves find a way to interface with others at a personal level. I find such people not sociopathic; there are few skeletons in the cupboard of any consequence – they’re just appreciative of the chance of human warmth though they don’t really know what to do with it once they are extended it. In the end, they’re nice people but will never be part of any circle of friends.

Everyone hopes they find what they’re looking for - normal people always like to demand concrete goals of others - but their goals are just to find a sustainable base and some human warmth, as with “normal” people, yet somehow things manage to get in the way to prevent that, quite rotten luck really, in part a product of their own unusual and interesting lives.

And as they grow older, what was once seen as a life of adventure is now viewed with a jaundiced eye and as they fail to settle into the wife, home, car and two kids life-in-hock, people say, ‘Nice man, kind face,’ but secretly resolve he’ll never marry their daughter. They almost resent his bad luck and think, perhaps with an element of truth, that he brought it all on himself.

These are things I saw in the future yesterday for my young friend and hope to goodness it doesn’t go that way. Fine thing to be creative, to sit on the steps beside limestone churches and admire the baroque period but it hardly puts bread on the table, does it?

Also, he’s not getting any younger but at least he’s in the country of his upbringing.


oestrebunny said...

He sounds like an interesting person to be around.

Dragonstar said...

It can be very interesting to observe the way different people react to the same stimuli. We all need others in some way and at some time.

Aileni said...

You manage to sound like one of Somerset Maugham's 'observers' - there is a short story or two in you, I'm sure.

CherryPie said...

It is our journey in life and the things that happen to us along the way that make us who we are.

I agree with Dragonstar, we all need someone sometimes!

Anonymous said...

is cucina not kucina.

jmb said...

Very interesting post James and interesting in that it puts me in mind of the British rather than the Italian. The kind of person Anita Brookner and other British authors seemed to write about constantly.
But of course as a barman he interacts with people all day and probably cherishes his solitary time away from work.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Great post and thanks for thr compliments. You have been entertianing company.


I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.

Tennyson: "Ulysses"

Anonymous said...

You have so much depth and vision, seeing things that others never take the time to see, James.

I think all life itself is tragic. Some people just cope better than others, whilst others have better luck than others.
What is the point in being born, having such great brains, to learn and experience so much only to end up[for the lucky ones] old, decrepit, senile, alone and in shitty diapers where our only salvation is eventually death?

What philosper said that we should wish for death to follow as closely to birth as posible, as being the best a man could hope for? The longer one 'lived', he felt, the more tragic it was.

In my professional and persoanl life[lately], I tend to see the worst in humun nature, so I tend to agree with the following statements.
And then every once in awhile, you meet a special soul who floats above the rest[like you] and then it almost seems worthwhile.

This post of yours now, is one of my all time favourites, for so much of YOU[unintended, I am sure] came through.

Anonymous said...

BTW That was not a depressive's comment. I am just a realist. :)

TBRRob said...

I believe these characters are the ones who make life interesting.

Cassandra said...

Lovely story. Hope you both had a great time! Rested too, perhaps?

Gracchi said...

Great post James! I wish I was out there with you and a glass of wine!