On Monday morning, I was sipping cappuccino outside a café in downtown Milan when a woman of indeterminate age sat down at the table in front of me. I say indeterminate age because while her unsteady movements and long yellow-white hair hinted at an elderly woman, her fishnet stockings and stilettos put out a different vibe. Her face was no help either. It was a mask of surgical enhancements, a puffy and almost animatronic façade that shifted in little jerks as the woman berated the waitress. I could tell you about all the diva behavior I witnessed from one table over, but that isn’t the point. The point is that later in the day, I ran an image search for woman in Milan with too much plastic surgery and called Dan over triumphantly when I found a photo of my café companion:
[Image found here.]
I’m not sure if it’s a point in our favor or an inexcusable lapse in pop culture savvy that neither Dan nor I recognized the woman in the photo as Donatella Versace until we’d read the post. I just about choked when I saw her name. “You don’t think… Could it really have been…? I’m not 100% sure…” It hadn’t occurred to me to snap a photo of the woman at the café, so all I can tell you with certainty, dear readers, is that I may or may not have spent Monday morning watching Donatella Versace spill various beverages on our waitress and then snap at her for it.
This whole week in Milan has had a surreal quality for me. I had planned to go about life as normally as possible while we’re here, unapologetically retreating however many hours of the day necessary not to lose myself. Time hasn’t been the problem though. My physiology has. It’s as if my body has been keeping tabs on all missed hours of sleep from the past few months and decided to collect on them at once. I have slept so much this week that dignity prevents me from being more specific, yet my brain continues slumping over with fatigue. Trying to work my way back to myself right now is like hiking underwater while pulling a disobedient walrus on a leash. I feel psychedelic, and not in a groovy way.
All this rest has to be making a difference though, and I have every hope that soon I’ll be able to recover lost attributes like energy and consciousness. I’m letting myself accept this week as an unintended reboot. I’m not all the way to relishing it yet, but there is such a unique brand of relief in surrendering to a nap, in sprawling out under the ceiling fan and letting all my expectations for the next hour (or four) evaporate off my skin. I hardly ever slow down unless my body up and forces me to, so even though this week has felt surreal and disconnected and maddeningly slow, I can see how it too is a form of grace.