The engine of the car grumbles quietly, the sound is almost imperceptible. I am lying slightly diverted on my sit, with my head perched on a window-still and listening intently to the words of the Italian song rhythmically coming to my ears, muffled by
an escalating hum of the wind getting across a partly open window. The landscape is changing and so are the colors as we move in a dizzying pace along the Sicilian coast. The road disappears on the horizon, somewhere at an altitude of a majestic cliff closing the bay from the west side.
The mild flesh-colored rouge of the sky passes lightly through all possible shadows of the sunset to finally connect to the cloud of the deep, dark violet vanishing behind the cliff.
As my feelings, memories and experiences from Sicily are diversified not less than Sicilian sunset sky I decided to share it and describe in three parts : the funny one, the travel one and the reflexive one. The pink, the black and the red.
As an artist I know that when you mix very different colors of paints on the canvas you can either get the neon flashing disaster or the new, better and deeper version of what you have imagined before. This article is therefore my very own new painting.
THE PINK OR THE FUNNY PART
Your drunk friends behave like Italians, drunk Italians are another category of people
I’m not really a party type of a person. Not because I don’t like parties but because to do parties you need to have friends which is not really my case. So when I got to know that I had been invited to my friend’s friend party I felt kind of anxious… Even though Italy is my second home and I already got used to some of pretty unusual Italian habits, party was something new and unfamiliar, so I didn’t really know what to expect.
I thought that after one party I will know what to expect from the next one. But after I went to one Sicilian party I feel like I know even less about what can happen at the other one.
Here is what I have learned by now:
1) The people you meet on the party are not gay. Even if two men dance a passionate dance together, even if they snap each other’s butts and kiss each other’s necks, even if they throw one another to the sea taking his pants off in the meanwhile, they are not gay. At least in majority. Even if they tell you they are gay, don’t believe them – they are not.
2) There are some particular Italian rules according to which you should kiss someone on the chick for a greeting in a particular order and particular amount of times depending on how long you know the person, if you are a girl or a guy etc.
But don’t be afraid – they will forget about it all at all when they are drunk.
3) Party in the club has probably different rules but on the party consisting of friends nobody will never touch you or let anything wrong happen to you except of getting totally drunk with the alcohol they are going to offer you.
4) How would you feel if somebody you have just met asked you «Maybe it will sound strange but… can I lick your face?» If they were Polish or had any other nationality than Italian… One moment, somebody who is not Italian
would probably never ask such question. Coming back to the subject: how could it happen that Italian decided to lick my face at the party?
There’s no party without a cake, right? The only thing is that Sicilian way of eating the cake seems to be different that the one I’m used to. Here is the instruction of how to do this:
a) Take your piece of cake
b) Eat a half of it
c) Splash another half on the face of your friend
d) Finish the cake by licking the face of your friend
Trust me, it’s the most efficient way of eating the cake I’ve ever seen in my life.
And even though it all sounds like the new version of ‘Project X’ nobody got really drunk, nobody abused anyone, nobody was vomiting, nobody got harmed.. Suddenly everybody realized that it’s time to go, as if they had kind of the alarm ringing in their heads
So we took our stuff, we kissed each other’s chicks (I STILL don’t remember how many times and in which order) and we all came back home. After I told this story to my friends, wrote it here for you and read it again about 10 times to correct it, it still doesn’t sound any less unbelievable.
Actually it just makes me keep asking myself the same question again and again since at least a year: «Dear God, how did it happen that I was born Polish?»
Thank you for adding a little bit of pure pink to my life. I think that every painter would hesitate a bit before gaining pink on the brush… The color is as light and clear as the painter has to be very careful and use it just to light up few parts of the painting. But wouldn’t the piece of art be boring without a little bit of craziness and risk?
THE BLACK OR THE TRAVEL PART
The colors of Palermo
I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t regale you with my clearly sociological observations. Probably a lot of you have seen at least one movie about mafia in your life. (I saw my first one few weeks ago, but it still counts!) and probably most of you treated it as a little bit funny and a little bit interesting story of something a little bit unrealistic or historical.
In Poland kids learn a lot of practical things about safety at school. Teachers tend to give uncountable amount of brochures – « How to be safe on holidays? » « How to stay safe on the road? » « How to safely ride a bike? »
But I can’t imagine somebody teaching me how stay safe in case of the pressure of mafia. Well, that’s probably because I’ve never attended Sicilian school.
Imagine that you are crossing the crowded street of Palermo, passing by countless stands where noisy local owners shout over one another recommending their products which is even more funny as you have never SEEN not even concerning trying even 30% of them. The joyous crowd of always smiling Italians enter and leave coffeehouses, street food stands selling pieces of freshly prepared pizza and Sicilian panini, shoe shops, grocery shops, boutiques, kiosks and countless amount of others, list of which would take twice as much space as this article. It was such a surprise (or was it really a surprise? Can anything in Italy ever be a surprise?) to get to know that probably at least 90% of those smaller or bigger businesses pay tribute to the mafia just to get the « protection » or, as I’d rather call it, rights to prosper in peace even for a while…
I am not going to go deeper into this, as I’m neither a specialist nor a particular enthusiast but concerning my reflexions : mafia being almost the second government of this Italian island apart from the fact whether it’s a positive or negative part of the local history (Sicilian’s opinions are pretty diversified, trust me) it is for sure one of the most saturated color of Sicily and especially of Palermo. It’s not the lightest or the purest color though…
One of the movement in painting refuses black as the paint in usage while painting … They popularize usage of mixed colors to gain the shadow almost as dark as black. They say that clear black makes painting looking not natural as the real, deep black doesn’t naturally exist in the environment. But without the black paint would we ever see Edward’s Hopper achievement?
It’s not up to me to decide if Sicily would ever be Sicily without this one undefined color of Palermo. Thank you all at all for bringing some black paint to my consciousness.
THE RED OR THE REFLEXIVE PART
This chapter is full of hidden dedications… maybe accidentally one of those very special people will have a chance to read it and understand.
« I never had any friends
later on like the ones I had
when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone? »
I’m part of this majority of people who remember their friends from when they were 12-year-olds but either they have lost the contact with them and they regret it a lot or they are not sure if they want to know some of them, as they are not the same people anymore and they will never be ones. As a sentimental person I like to come back to the time of my childhood friendships, and I learnt to recognize three types of them:
1) Friend(s) – as it rarely exists in plural – who stayed with you since the very early childhood and huge part of your friendship is the fact that nobody in the world knows you like them, who has been through everything that has ever happened to you, and who understands you better than anyone ever will.
2) Friends who you used to know, who you used to share everything with, who spent half of your childhood with you travelling Europe, dying in each other’s parent’s car and finding out the most stupid and therefore the best secretive role-play games ever. Those, who used to explore Tatra ski slopes in Slovakia with you carefully, hiding this fact from unaware parents year after year. Those, who will always be your brothers of sisters, who will understand everything without words, who will be always there for you whenever you need them (as well as you do for them). And those, who you see once a year and you have no idea how their life looks like now.
3) Friends who were your biggest challenge because you used to make them on your own: at school, on the playground, in the library… Friends, who you used to know when you were 12, with who you used to play basketball everyday until it got dark and your parents were calling you back home. Those who behave like they never knew you and it feels awkward even to say « Hi » to each other. Long story short: people who don’t exist anymore.. Finally, what do we have in common with 12-year-old us?
On Sicily I met the example of this preserved kind of people… People who were friends since they were 12 and they still are ones. It would probably be mean to say that I’m kind of jealous. (But I am a lot.)
After all, it also brought kind of hope to my life. Maybe I’m not authorized to say if it’s something Sicilian (or Italian), or maybe it comes deeply from their mentality and makes them best material for friends, sons, husbands… Or if it’s just an exception,
even if it’s just a coincidence, (and I want to believe it’s not), I want to believe that it’s the way they are and the way I hope I’ll be one day.
Thank you for adding a bit of red to my life. Red is one of the most beautiful of colors as it’s the visible provision of our strongest emotions. It’s as dark as if you use it once you can’t hide it totally under any other colour on the painting as anything is strong enough to cover the red smudge. That’s why red, if put once on the canvas, permanently changes the shadow of colors put on it and make them the unique, irreplaceable chronicle of tens and
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