Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Message in a Bottle

Every year a group of some of my closest friends and I remember a special day in Florence, that happened years back when we were students. Who knows why we're so serious about the celebrating, and remembering, of that day--all in all, it was really just a little moment in what has since become a long lasting friendship, but as it turns out, that little moment meant a lot.

We call it "Bottle Day." It was nine years ago, on the 6th of February, and the four of us were studying abroad in Italy. We were new friends, we had all just met about a month earlier, and we had that kind of close friendship that seems to happen to people when they are put in close study-abroad situations: really close friends, really really fast. Normally those kind of friendships last about the duration of the time abroad--but in this case, we've all been very close friends ever since. We're lucky. Maybe it's because of Bottle Day? Well--maybe in part.

This is what happened, in a nutshell (you can read more about that day here and here): the four of us, during a class field trip to Florence, decided that it would be something special if we wrote letters to our loved ones back home, put all of the letters in one bottle, and threw the bottle into the Arno River, to watch it sail away and maybe one day reach those people we loved. I always say this: I don't remember exactly what I even wrote that night. I just remember that four of us friends were together, sharing a moment that we will remember forever. It's the moment that I remember, not the message.

So we celebrate this day every year, and finally last year, while Corrie was studying here in Italy, we decided to meet up, the two of us--two of the four--and remember together: follow our footsteps to the restaurant where we ate, where we emptied a wine bottle with dinner, where we wrote those letters, and then go back to the bridge where we threw the bottle into the river.

It was a nice weekend, although as you can guess, memories tend to take the place of reality: making it more beautiful. Our own dinner at the restaurant wasn't as tasty as we had remembered. It was a pizzeria, right off the river, and we had eaten there the night of the bottle. I always had remembered it as being the best little pizzeria, and here we were, with soggy undercooked crust. Also, we were trying to put together packages for Cassie and Erin, and we couldn't find anything, as hard as we tried, in the middle of all of the shops in Florence. Everything seemed to work out just as we were leaving though: we happily stumbled upon this tiny stationery shop that we had remembered from years past, and we also found the perfect little Florentine pins to go with the rest of the things in the package. We even were given free drinking glasses by the waiters at the pizzeria--little red glasses with Florence fleur-de-lis on them. When it was time for Corrie to head back to Parma, and me to head back to Macerata, we decided that these two days in Florence were just right after all--our memories might have left out some of the details, but all in all, eight years before had been the start of a friendship. And it was clear that that friendship was still strong.

This year, girls, I hope that you had a wonderful bottle day--I miss all of you, and I can't wait to see you again. Next year is the ten year anniversary of this celebration of ours: can we all meet in Florence, and celebrate it together? What do you think? I'll be there if you are.



At 8:41 AM, Blogger dario said...

That story reminds me something similar we made in the 80's. We were a group of about 20 people, and one night in the early 90's we decided to bury a bottle of Ferrari, just like they did in that movie Fandango with a bottle of Dom Perignon.
We buried it in a wooden box filled with plastic bubbles under a tree next to the Ticino river, and we made a sign on the tree itself. The purpose was to go there the newyears day 2000, at 11am, meet all together, find a bottle, and give a disgusted sip to the rotten wine.... And remember the old days gone... all the promises each one of us made to theirselves and compare the life we builted with the life one had planned.

Well... only three of us met, we went in that area but it was kind of different than what it was ten years before... or atleast different than what we remembered... so, after few hours spent looking for the right tree (we also digged a couple of holes without any success), we decided to go back home.
The experiment was a failure... and not because we didn't find the bottle, but because actually we were not "us" anymore. Each one had his own life, and nothing to share each other anymore...
Or maybe the magic of this story was not that cold morning in the new millennium, but that day in the early 90's when we buried it. I still remember those days with those friends, although i have no news of them since years and years.

At 9:54 AM, Blogger rowena said...

Ten years...that's just amazing. I wish that I could say the same for my friends back home but it's move away, make an effort to keep in touch, yet all they ever send are FW's. I have only one contact that drops me a line often. Hmmm...could it be the water that they drink? ;-)

I'm all for Bottle Day!

At 5:42 PM, Blogger Stelle In Italia said...

Oh, Bella! Happy Bottle Day! Your post is a beautiful read -- perfect. Count me in for the 10 Year Bottle Day Anniversary in Firenze. That would be so (dancing) wonderful!

Miss you,
P.S. My computer crashed again, but I'm working on mending it. More soon hopefully!

At 6:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, absolutely beautiful - I love Bottle Day! maybe we are all still close friends because to me, it certainly hasn't been nine years since we watched that bottle float down the Arno; it seems like just yesterday and even though our lives have taken us in different directions, our conversation is a continuation, never ending.
And, I have no idea what I wrote either - doesn't much matter...
"I remember that we were together" - isn't that a Baci quote from way back?!


At 2:12 PM, Blogger Cherrye said...

What a touching story about great friendships. I hope to read next year that you all got together and had a great bottle day. Maybe you can upgrade that soggy pizza and make more memories!


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