After all the delighting I’ve been doing in all the pastas, pizzas and gelatos that Italy has to offer, I decided: Monday – I start jogging.
So Monday, bright and early, I jogged the Larciano/ Lamporecchio giro, a track that wasn’t so much a track as a gravel dirt path that ovalled some farms, a pond, and a pool in the area. Because it’s not a perfect oval and turns into a road that detours through a village, I managed to take a wrong turn somewhere and ended up on a main street. Determined to go the correct route on Wednesday, I begin my walk, walk, jog from the opposite end.
I am on my second ‘walk’ when a man with short curly brown hair and a slight potato nose catches up to me. He slows down as he passes and garbles something in Italian.
“Something something tired,” I understand, and so I smile and nod, but he follows this up with, “Così?” I am confused, so I repeat after him, “Così?” like some parrot. He motions for me to follow and starts to jog a bit faster. “Così?” he says again and all of a sudden I am picking up speed to keep up with him and repeat “Così,” again like I totally agree even though I still have no idea what’s happening.
I am confused but feel awesome: I am on a morning jog with some Italian I don’t know who’s wearing a florescent yellow windbreaker. Life is good.
Before he can say anything else I turn to warn him: “Mi scusa, ma io no parlo bene l’Italiano,” I say in my best Italian just like my Pimsleur’s taught me.
He motions with his hand from me to him and back. “Insieme. Insieme.” Together, I understand.
“Sì, sì.” Yes, yes, I nod emphatically.
We jog for a bit and then he turns to me and asks, “É il tuo primo giro?”
My mind races.
“Tuo primo?” He repeats, and shows me ‘one’ with his finger, and then a circle. Ah, yes, it is my first loop. “Sì.” I nod.
He garbles something again, and I think he is asking me how many loops I plan on doing. He holds up two fingers. “Due?”
Uhh….I stammer, doing the best international hand motion for ‘maybe’ I can think of to say that my last proper jog was roughly two months ago; two giros might be pushing it. He laughs.
We are reaching the turn that I had missed the last time around so I’m hesitant to run beside him hoping he’ll lead. He points left.
He slows down to a walk. “Something something camminiamo,” again, motioning slowing down with his hands. I know this word from Spanish. Now we walk. Ok.
As we reach another turn he says something that I apparently misunderstand because I manage to say, “Va bene, gracie,” in a way that signals I’m good and don’t want to run with him anymore.
“Non correre tanto?” He asks. “No.” I say. I do not run much. He smiles and says, “Allora,” Well then. “Ciao, ciao.”
He waves and runs off ahead of me and I am caught off guard but I wave and smile and say “Ciao” like it’s a word that I’m used to casually singsonging to random Italians on my morning jogs. I am slightly disappointed – I was ready to struggle a bit just to keep up with him – but then I realize that he had managed to lead me through the one part of the giro I was silently unsure about. It was brilliant. And now, I know where to jog. É una vita bella, no? Allora.