Those more familiar with the culture here may have heard of the dreaded colpo d’aria. Literally translated, it means being smacked by air, which is an extremely serious issue here in Italy. If you get smacked by air, your neck seizes up, I’ve also heard of catching a fever, runny nose, aches or pains. The best protection is to hide under an undetermined number of layers and large scarves. Never walk out of a bathroom with your hair wet (never go anywhere with your hair wet), and never ever put bare feet/feet with thin socks/feet without an adequate fluffiness of sock/slipper on a cold floor.
I know it sounds silly. I used to snort at people when they’d use it in serious conversation. I’d scoff at wearing three pairs of socks around the house and a scarf if there was a bit of a breeze. I come from SNOW. I used to walk outside with wet hair from my high school pool and on the cold days, it would freeze. I ain’t afraid of no wind.
Over years, however, this country has transformed me, apparently. Maybe in spite, I don’t know, but this morning I woke up, jumped out of bed to shut my alarm off (remember it isn’t in my room) and proceeded to twitch in a way I can only describe as somewhat cartoon-like. I had been hit. It felt like my vertebrae were fusing together and all of a sudden my busy day exploded into pieces I was left to sit in bed, unable to even incline my head to look at the pieces.
Rami jumped into action. Italians, they know these things by instinct, I swear. Soon I had a hot pack, Tylenol, and was set back down into the pillows. Once upon a time, I slept wrong he wrapped a wool scarf around my neck in July. I used to tell that story with amusement. One more strike against the air. It was getting angry at me for dismissing it.
After pills, heat, and some stretching, I finally made it to get dressed and out into the sun. I walk like a scarecrow. We went next door for lunch. The restaurant takes pity on me immediately. “Ahhhh! Of course with this cold, then hot weather” they wave in the air in agreement and one person tells a story about someone they know that just got over it the other day too.
Over the course of the day, I’ve gained a bit of movement. The heat pack is going back on now, but honestly, I think I’m genetically transitioning to Italian DNA that is affected by slight breezes (my husband also says if I don’t blowdry my hair my head will get moldy – I’m still waiting on that one). Either that or I’m just getting old and rickety.
Regardless, here I am, slathering on Tiger Balm because that’s my go-to rugby remedy, and the Italian air apparently hits just as hard. I’ll wave a white flag to the colpo d’aria. You got me. I won’t make fun anymore. Now I’m going to bed with the hope that I’ve apologized enough to the Italian wind gods (like snow gods?) so that they’ll allow me to rotate my face in the morning.
PS. I’m wearing a scarf in bed.