Once I didn't have anything scheduled, I was immediately aware of the fact that I was tired but didn't want to nap because I wanted my body to adjust, so I needed to stay up for another six hours or so and have a normal bedtime. I decided coffee was the solution so I headed to a little shop that Jordan had pointed out on our walk. I entered and made my first mistake... trying to find a line and wait in it. In some circumstances this would have worked, but I had forgotten that, in general, people here just kind of walk up and say what they want and somehow it all organizes itself into a chaotic-yet-effective system. I stood for awhile but got no acknowledgment from any of the three employees. I inched closer to the counter. I got out cash and held it visibly in my hand. I tried to make eye contact. No dice. They sort of looked like they were cleaning up and maybe it was closing time, so I thought perhaps they weren't serving anyone else that day. Eventually I backed out the door in my sleep deprived haze, turned a corner into a less populated alleyway and briefly cried. My approximate thoughts were: "I want a change of clothes from my luggage and I'm so tired and everyone here hates me and I just want a damn coffee!!!" I pulled myself together and continued to wander, uncaffeinated. (I experienced a similar situation with gelato later in the evening, but I'll spare you that saga.) I walked back by the coffee shop on my way home and it was still open, so they clearly weren't about to close when I was there...they were just ignoring me until I told them what I wanted.
After a good sleep last night, I awoke this morning with a more positive outlook and thought about what I learned in Venice when I was in the city 13 years ago but forgot: there is a cultural difference here where if you are assertive, if you speak your needs clearly and decisively, people will respond and will not think you are being rude and will not think that you're not a nice person. This is, as many of you know, the opposite of who I am and it will take some getting used to, but it's an opportunity for growth.
On my walk to the school this morning, I decided to try again. I strode in the door wearing the same outfit as yesterday (no sign of that luggage yet!), walked up to the counter, inserted myself in between some other people and said, "BUON GIORNO!", probably a little too loudly. The woman smiled at me and came over, I ordered a cappuccino, I stood there and drank it, and I left with my head held high. Everything over these next few weeks will take some getting used to, but it's nothing I can't handle if I've had my coffee.