Routines, and the need to sometimes break them

I’m now starting week 4 of 5 here. This means that I’ve had one week of vacation and two weeks of class, and am over the halfway mark in this adventure.

On the one hand, this is incredible, because it’s by far the longest trip that I’ve ever taken. But on the other, it feels like I’ve only just arrived, and I have so little time left. I’m finally starting to build routines, damn it!

I’ve literally never been away on a trip this long, and even on my longer trips, I never stayed in one place. Here, I’ve slept in the same bed every night since I arrived. That’s 23 consecutive nights… Hell, I rarely am home that many nights in a row! (And I’m talking about my fairly frequent travel, hush.)

I’ve certainly developed my routines in Siena. I know all of the baristas at the cafe downstairs, and even some of the waiters at the restaurant across the street that (I believe) is owned by the same people. I start my weekdays the same way every day: brief stop in the cafe, then walk the same route to school. I’ve started seeing familiar faces in the shops along the route, and smiling and waving. On weekends, if I’m not doing some field trip with the school, I tend to have a lazy start, but wander into the cafe for a bit of lunch and some work while people-watching.

Most mornings include a walk past a small bridge, with this stunning view of the Basilica of San Domenico

I do laundry about two times a week on average: one small load of white clothes, and one small load of colors on another day. I go grocery shopping after class, on my way home from school, about twice a week. I put my little tied-up garbage bags out along the narrow streets in the evenings, and they’re picked up in the mornings, without fail. These things are steady, and unremarkable… but somehow comforting.

Lest you think that I’ve been on vacation for a month, I’ll add that most days I’m working, also. I’m teaching three online classes, and every day I’m grading work, responding to student emails, or checking into the Discussion Boards to see how the student interactions are going. I’m also teaching online webinars for a consulting client, three afternoons/evenings a week (mornings in the U.S.), for two hours each. This sort of combination is, I imagine, what my work life will be like if I am successful at this fiendish scheme to move here.

I started this trip with a habit of an evening stroll, what the Italians call a passeggiata, each evening after dinner. Sadly, I got out of the habit; I suppose I have two weeks of opportunities remaining to enjoy it! I love the idea of getting a little light exercise after a meal, taking in the sights of the city, and joining large groups of people who are all doing the same. I can’t imagine doing this back in my neighborhood at home; why would Americans go for an evening stroll, when they could simply drive somewhere if they wanted to get out, or not bother doing anything and just be at home? Maybe I’ll try it anyway… the dogs would surely appreciate the adventure.

An evening stroll is a lot more appealing when this is waiting just outside your doorstep for you to walk by.

Of course, I’m sure many people would argue that there’s a ton to see around my home now, and I bet that they’re correct. I haven’t spent much time exploring West Palm Beach yet, despite having lived there a year. In Florida, I basically rotate through home, work, the movies, my favorite wine bar, and the airport… Maybe a touch of the awe that I’ve found here in Siena is just outside my doorstep, waiting for me to go discover it.

Shame on me if I don’t at least go try.

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