La dolce vita took a little rain check one day this week.
The apartment I’m staying in at the moment dates from 1937. That makes it pretty old.
And the guy who runs it (and lives here) knocked on my door on Wednesday evening, just as I was about to Skype in with my accountability group.
He told me: "We cannot use the bathroom for the rest of the night."
No, not for anything.
Not for a shower, not the toilet, not the sink.
We could run water from the tap in the kitchen but not let anything go down the drain.
Apparently a pipe had burst on one of the floors below.
He kindly suggested that if I needed to, um, pi-pi, I could use one of the balconies in my room. (There’s plant pots).
The balconies, incidentally, look out onto the main street, an arterial route through the centre of the old town.
A road which is, I grant you, relatively devoid of tourists at 2am, but which is patrolled what seems like hourly by street cleaners through the night.
I began to laugh, after having successfully located a nearby cafe bar which was still open, find a waitress, stumble through the explanation and request in Italian and find the bathroom only to discover it was one of those squat toilets which, let’s be honest, us English aren’t fond of.
By the next day however it wasn't feeling very funny. I got up, put on clothes and went into the language school and ask to use their toilet, having packed my toothbrush in my handbag. I’d dressed as normal and put on some eyeliner but I still felt a bit well, bedheaded.
At 10am I asked my landlord, when the plumbers would be finished. He said they told him 30 minutes. And when the clock struck 12, it still wasn’t done.
I was feeling a bit icky from not having showered.
It was pretty miserable, I’m not going to lie.
But I realised I had a choice. I could see it as something going wrong. Or I could see it as an adventure.
And seeing that my landlord was also suffering, I began to realise it wasn’t just me. When we have compassion, we see things differently. We realise we’re not the only ones who feel pain. As Pema Chodron says: "Other people feel this. May we all be free."
The plumbers (idraulici, a word I happen to have learned but hadn’t assumed I’d be needing so soon) called the intercom to let us know they were done when I was alone in the apartment. I asked the guy in my best Italian several times to make sure I’d understood. I text my landlord and got in the shower. 10 minutes later he banged on the door. I’d misunderstood. They weren’t finished. Or something. I’m still not entirely sure.
It’s all fixed now.
There were no emergency balcony visits.
It all worked out. (I’m super grateful for bathrooms).
We can either resist and fight where we are, or love and accept it for what it is. It doesn’t mean not desiring change, it doesn’t mean we can’t place ourselves in better situations next time.
But sometimes, life happens. And we can choose to see it as a problem or as part of the adventure.