On Italian pleasure and in defense of American comfort and pajamas

Americans. You work too hard, you get burned out.  You come home and spend the whole weekend in your pajamas in front of the T.V…you don’t know pleasure. You have to be told you’ve earned it. You see a commercial that says: ‘It’s Miller Time!’  And you say, That’s right, now I’m going to buy a six pack and then drink the whole thing and wake up the next morning and you feel terrible.  But an Italian doesn’t need to be told…–Luca Spaghetti, Eat Pray Love

For the past two weeks, my husband and I have reached Friday night, and all we’ve wanted to do was hunker down with a good bowl of soup, shut out the world, and lay around the apartment in our pajamas.

A night in and a table set with homemade soup, good olive oil, bread, and wine.

There’s been something oddly satisfying about that feeling of falling asleep around 7:30 pm on a Friday night, because you know it’s the 5:30 am starts, the hard work of speaking another language all day, teaching, learning, reading, writing, traversing the city, and generally accomplishing life in a foreign country that’s using every last bit of energy in you.

And so the challenge for me has been and continues to be to accept the rhythms of life in the here and now, as they come, in all their gracelessness, with all their American faults.  For while I heed Luca Spaghetti’s chide here–it’s probably partly the hubub of the week that’s left me stranded on the couch this weekend with a migraine–there’s also something to be said for the way many of us Americans fiercely and passionately love our work, and live out our vocations with an eagerness and vigor that may even put our Italian counterparts to shame.

The closest we ever got to Italian pleasure: on honeymoon in Andalucia, Spain, Summer 2008.

It’s good and right to draw lines around work and home, to find time for rest and relaxation, and to take both in moderation, but the whole idea that you shouldn’t mix business with pleasure, well, I have to respectfully disagree, Mr. Luca Spaghetti.

Stovetop Americano.
My favorite blanket.

A week of hard work and a weekend in pajamas, with a blanket and a warm cup of coffee, may not be an Italian’s lofty idea of pleasure, but there’s something to be said for comfort, and we Americans pretty much wrote the book on that.

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