I wake up in a Tuscany farmhouse. Slide my feet onto the floor, smooth brick not quite cold yet in October. Open the wooden shutters, which cover windows of different sizes, and look out at a haze of mist and rain. I can hear rain on the roof, muffled by the wooden ceiling in my apartment.
In the kitchen, I attempt to figure out the gas stove, which tends to ignite in a large puff of flame. Gas stoves are not my strong suit, but forced to adjust, I succeed in heating a large pot of water for tea. I use a ladle to spoon the brewed tea into a mug. There is a teapot, but it would make only eight ounces of tea, so I use a pot and brew about 40 ounces. I think it’s decaffeinated, but my Italian comprehension leaves me unsure.
I arrived yesterday with no food, so the owner gave me a basket of vegetables from the organic garden and a breakfast basket. There’s bread, cereal, milk, yogurt, butter, pecorino cheese, honey, jam, crackers, pasta, mandarins, tomatoes, apples, garlic, onions, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, and fresh cannellini beans. Truly, I cannot complain. I have everything I need to eat for days.
I’m living on the second floor of the farmhouse, in one of four apartments. I listen to the silence of the Tuscan countryside with utter contentment and the tiniest bit of panic. I’m not sure what I’ll do here, but I feel like I have all the time and space I need to think and decide.
I watch a Google Hangout for a NovoEd class I’m in, catch up with the lectures from Sam Altman’s startup class, finish reading a book I’d started, cook some cannellini beans for lunch, and write this blog post. I feel amazed and happy that only half the day is gone — with few distractions, I’m left to my own devices and find I’m neither stressed nor bored. I see a box of spa products in the bathroom that I would like to try. Perhaps later.
Tonight is pizza night, hosted by the owner for her guests. I’m really looking forward to getting to know her better and hearing her stories. Last night, after I arrived and before I had any food, I met the next-door neighbors/guests and they invited me for dinner. At that point I was really hungry, so I appreciated the help, as well as the good conversations, good food and open door.
I imagine more people used to live like this, in the quiet, with animals nearby, trees and fresh food. I can see the benefits. It’s refreshing just to sit and breathe here. I know I couldn’t do it forever — I’d keep wondering, “What’s next?” like I always do — but it’s far preferable to a cube-based existence with no variety or autonomy. (I’m not saying there are no jobs with variety or autonomy; there clearly are many, and I’ve had some of them, but in too many industries and for too many people it’s not the norm.)
Onward to more things I’ve meant to do, surrounded by peace, time and space.