Each year, the arrival of the Italians surprises me. The student groups, thirty strong, roam and conquer. Boisterous is the word that comes to mind. Physically and orally they take space, calling out to the dogs with arms thrown open wide like happy Pirandellos. For they are joyous in the up-bounce of Youth - that Spring signifier - and so different from the shuffling heads down ados, their French counterparts.
The current look for the young men is a haircut that is a tragic accident between a mohawk and a flat-top. Their jeans are less baggy and they dance around, shadow-boxing in neon Nike high-tops. The ladies seem to be having a Sophia Loren moment with manes left long and curls thick. They walk forward, heads high, feet planted in hopelessly impractical shearling lined deck shoes.
The Arena rings with the reverb of their jokes delivered, laughter lauded. Just a bunch of kids with the bounty of everything and the randomness of nihilism inside them, together. They wear it lightly.
I'll admit it, in the past they have annoyed me, these giant swarms that don't part like the seas but move forward like a busy bee storm. Their past is our past and so Arles is taken acquis. But this year, I find myself sipping their energy through a split straw, knowing that in all likelihood I will be elsewhere when next year's groups come to surprise someone else. And me? I will be wrapping the scarf of quiet around and around and around, while gazing softly at the old and new.
A note to my Australian readers and friends as you are quite numerous. Would you be so kind to take a spare moment to visit my friend Jeanne's blog, Collage of Life? She is looking for a young man named Tom Healey and is calling for help on the internet. Merci!