Artists go on Holiday

14 Jan

We climbed into the car in the morning and drove south to look for the ocean. Mark steered patiently while I fumbled with maps and Risa slept in the back. She woke at dusk when we made a frantic stop at a gas station to figure out why there was water in the car. We stood quietly on the edge of the gas station’s light and listened. It was raining into the dark of the night. Raindrops hissed as the cars flung them aside. Somewhere in the distance – we couldn’t pinpoint where – we could hear the baritone rumbles of the breathing ocean. We shivered, knowing it was lurking out there. I said, “For all we know, we could standing right in front of it, but it’s too dark to see.” Risa looked for sea shells at the gas station. We imagined whales swimming past us.

Once back in the car, the water spread. We drove on with wet feet. The map demanded we leave the autostrada and hunt wilder and more remote roads. With wet feet, we really were in no position to argue. We found a restaurant with a parking lot that was going savage for the night, and we figured if everyone was drunk, no one would complain if we slept on their lot. We locked our doors, passed jackets around, and after putting our feet up, we tucked in for the night.

I awoke to a piercing cheer. It was a suffocating dawn in the car, cluttered with dreams, still floating. The windows were sweating from keeping our imagination in. At daybreak, Risa had climbed onto the roof and from here she was shouting incoherently and gesticulating recklessly. I squinted up just as she stuck her wide grin through the window and brightly said, “We parked right beside the ocean.”

We drove on through the Tuscan plains, the hills to our left. Risa and I sang and cheered as the wind scrambled our hair and returned the wilderness into our eyes. Palm trees soared by and the ocean glistened in between. We decided to find a quiet beach strip, where we would be the only outsiders. We drove through the marshlands and the high grass of Capalbio until we parked on a long road that led to the restaurant Carmen Bay.

Sitting on the restaurant patio under a bamboo roof, digging our toes into the cool sand, we realised we were too fulfilled to eat, so after a morning cappuccino, we went our separate ways. I found a solitary corner on the beach and sat down to write.

Risa braided bracelets under a beach umbrella. Mark stayed on the patio and painted. He painted the ocean, the umbrellas, the clouds; she braided and braided and braided.

The sun got too hot for her and she scrambled back over the hot coals of the beach to share the shade with him. They sat in the temples of their art: Mark engrossed in the meditation of paintbrush strokes and Risa humming while she braiding patterns into bracelets. Drowsy from the heat, Mark ordered a cappuccino. He painted himself and Risa sitting on the patio of the restaurant, each doing whatever they define as holiday.

The owner of the restaurant swam through the peace and the heat to bring the cappuccino. He peered over at Mark’s painting curiously.

Fantastico! he cried. Il mio restaurante! He called a waitress over, he called his wife over. They came running. Mark smiled faintly and wrote Carmen Bay onto the restaurant’s sign. The owner swooned with joy. Que bello! Un artista! Fantastico! Then he demanded: Quanto…? É… How much? He pointed at the picture. How much per la pittura? Mark smiled in the heat as the ocean relaxed his soul. Money? He didn’t need any money. He didn’t need anything at all! He was completely satisfied, happy and relaxed. He had everything he needed. Except maybe . . .

“The picture for . . . free cappuccinos. All day.”

The owner shook his hand and proudly insisted Mark sign la pittura. He spilled rapid Italian onto the waitress and wife, who scrambled into action. Minutes later, Risa and Mark were drinking cappuccinos and smoking cigarettes. They smiled mildly at each other. She stretched and said sleepily, “You’re a useful person to have around.”

That was at noon. By the time I returned in the late afternoon, they had had 11 cappuccinos each. They had terrible stomach aches, and Mark was too nervous to draw straight. They jittered, fussed and squirmed. They were chain-smoking and worrying.

Risa said, “Well, no one can make cappuccinos like Italians can.”

I said, “Let’s go for a swim.”


3 Responses to “Artists go on Holiday”

  1. Rachel January 14, 2011 at 1:46 am #

    Beautiful choice of words, breathtaking experience, and photographs that ensure the memory never really fades away…. The master and the muse…. I love it and wish i could have been there too to share it!

  2. Paul February 12, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    I like it a lot, and to imagine Mark being sick from too much art-funded coffee is not a hard task 🙂
    The only thing i miss is the name of the location you’ve been. That would’ve interested me. But wel… it’s italy, and it’s all about the atmosphere and the ease of life.

    • rittisoncco February 12, 2011 at 11:41 pm #

      Dear Paul, the area was Capalbio, Tuscany and the restaurant was called Carmen Bay. It’s around the corner from the Niki de Saint-Phalle “Tarot Garden” (which was actually our goal for the whole trip!) and about 2 hours away from Florence. A beautiful beautiful place and I hope we can go back soon and maybe settle down there!

      Thank you for your comment!

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