[ Read Betty’s post here! Valentina’s post coming soon! ]
When the icy frost whitened the garden more than six months ago, it was hard for me to imagine that summer would be coming again… together with those days at the end of July which seemed far, far away. Let’s hold a workshop together – someone had said – and that sentence was enough to spur an endless row of ideas, e-mails, shared folders and dreams arising from the desire to create a chance to share, more than anything else.
With Valentina and Betty at my sides I could undertake something that was a new adventure for me and take the first step towards the very first workshop of my life.I have always found it difficult to dive into something new, I usually prefer the reassurance of something I already know. I prefer to be prepared for any event and to know beforehand what to expect. I am not particularly proud of this aspect of my personality and that is why I sometimes decide to face what “scares” me.
The day before the workshop I was so nervous. The swing in Valentina’s garden creaked for my repeated thrusts, while I stared at the road waiting for people to arrive.
What will they be like? What impression will I give them? A thousand question buzzing in my head like crazy bugs were shut down in less than a second by the beauty of a reassuring smile and by the warmest and most spontaneous embrace (between the three of us!) I have ever received.
The people we were waiting for – many of them coming from very far away – deserved to be repaid with the best we could give them for the trust they had placed on us.
While the cars started arriving on top of the hill, where the table we would gather around in the following days was already adorned with fresh wild flowers (*FreakyRaku as giveaway!) and shining glasses filled with welcome cocktails, I tried to let the useless anxiety – which had remained with me until then – fall from my shoulders, as a heavy velvet cloak falling to the ground.
Feeling a bit helpless in that long awaited moment, I stepped into those intense days to come with a new and unexpected lightness.
I have thought a lot about what to say about the time we spent with the best group of participants we could have. Many are the moments for which words would not be enough, but there is one word which I have to say before anything else and that is THANK YOU.
I learnt from you more than I could give you. You have been the best teachers and each one of you left me something precious that I will cherish for a long time.
You have been the best fruits I could collect after one year’s work – very often a solitary work – behind The Freaky Table.
You made me travel – not only to Gradara, one of the best locations we could consider – because each one of you brought to our table part of their culture and their country of origin. It was very moving for me to realize how similar we are in our diversity. We all want to be surrounded by simple and beautiful things and we all want to share moments which allow us to feel grateful for being part of something bigger than ourselves, something which makes us feel united like sisters.
I remember your candle-lit faces in that magic night and the fragmented conversations I had with each one of you. My senses were more attentive than usual to compensate for my insecurity, since I could not perfectly understand what you were talking about (you surely talked very fast!) so I probably felt those moments with a different intensity.
Has it ever happened to you that you strongly wanted to be in the present moment but everything seemed to be too fast? Well, that’s the way I felt, so everything seems to me a little blurred now, like the remembrance of a dream. A beautiful dream, one of those dreams which always remain part of you… just like friends.
I dreamt of sumptuously laid tables with crystal glasses and olive leaves, with plates – so many plates! – containing some of the tastiest dishes I have ever eaten, prepared with care by someone who can make it an artwork.
I would like to tell Marisa, Valentina’s mother, who prepared for us delicious home-made pasta, fish ravioli, grated vegetables, perfumed bruschette, incredible cakes and much more, with love and care, that she has been special. As Betty said in a surprisingly perfect Italian, “this event would not have been possible without you!”.
Valentina and Betty, followed by Saghar’s arrival, have been a blessing to me. I cannot say how fortunate I feel to have two wonderful friends like them. These very beautiful, strong and talented young women have been my anchor and my guide. Profound, firm and delicate at the same time, they enclose daring and free spirits.
I could tell you about many moments, like when we learned to make pasta – I am saying that “we” learnt because I include myself in the apprentice pasta makers – or when we learnt from one another so many secrets about photography and composition, styling and editing… But the most exciting moment for me was the time we spent around our wonderful table in the garden.
The most profound essence of sharing was right there: the table – that is, the place of sustainment and relationships where the imperfect beauty of everyday life becomes something higher – deep universal connections, eyes looking at each other, hearts opening and souls meeting.