Other students insisted that all three of them had eating disorders. They ran along the Arno River religiously every evening right before dark. They did seem to subsist on bottled water and bulk candy. And McDonald's ice cream cones. I didn't know if this really proved they were ill or if it simply indicated that they were a little nutritionally stupid. Either way, not my business. The semester already had enough problems.
What I do remember is that they had the weirdest, cutest laughs. And the little blond one would show up sleep deprived, dressed in a white skull cap with a little rainbow logo on it and a filthy hoodie. She'd have fixative and Pantone ink all over her hands on the mornings we had an assignment due. Honey, you look homeless! She'd snort and wouldn't stop her hysterical laughter for the next 45 minutes. It was after one of these distracted, slap happy deadline and critique sessions that I walked with them (the alleged eating disorder victims) to McDonald's for their favorite fix.
And I have to admit it- a taste of home is very comforting, indeed. Especially when you're in culture shock and under tremendous pressure to be creative while carrying a workload comparable to that of architecture or med school students. Even if that taste is the watery, sweet, non-dairy flavor of McD's "ice cream" in a cake cone. So, for five minutes or so, we stood by a counter alongside a front window and ate those cones in cozy silence. It's gonna be okay. You can have fries to go, if you need more.
And then I turned and looked outside. Mistake. Hey, self. Quick memo to me: never again look outside while licking an ice cream cone in Italy. When we were finished, so was he. Every single damn time we went. Like clockwork. It took the shine off the apple, lemme tell you.