by Melinda Gallo

My old stomping grounds

Because my palestra (gym) is closed for the rest of the month, I've been forced to go to my old palestra. I used to go to Palestra Ricciardi when I lived in Florence back in 1997-1999 and then each time I visited for a month, I'd sign back up. Each time I went, I'd see all the same people I used to know.

I haven't been back to my old palestra since October 2004 when I signed up for a month. After we moved into our apartment, I chose the palestra that was closer to my house.

When I went in today to sign up, I saw a few guys that I used to talk with when I used to go. One of the guys I have seen in centro (downtown) a few times and each time, he says to me, "Appari, scompari..." (You appear, you disappear...). Today, when he saw me, he said, "Allora quanto tempo ci stai con noi?" (So, how long are you staying with us?) I explained this time that I'm only there for a month while my palestra is closed.

Then, I saw another man from my old days at the palestra and he came up to me said, "Ben tornata!" (Welcome back!). I had to tell him that I only live a few blocks away and that I go to another palestra. "Mi fa fatica venire qui a piedi da casa mia." (It's tiring to walk here from my house), I said.

It was quiet at the palestra even though I was there during peak hours--after work and before dinner. They had renovated the entire palestra and it was so clean and new. I was extremely happy that they moved the tapis roulant (running machines) away from the front door and reception desk.

It was on my way home that I realized that my old palestra is only five more blocks away. I'm considering signing back up permanently, but my gym bag is quite heavy. I'm sure after a month of lugging it there and back, I might opt to go back to the palestra that is only around the corner from my house. But who knows, it is nice to go somewhere where you feel like you're not a stranger.

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