But in places like Texas, shiny objects attract. It almost seems like they have passed a law down in Houston that makes it illegal to park your own car, must be valet parked. Even if there is a parking lot full of spaces, bright orange traffic cones block the driver from parking. And we wonder why Houstonians have a problem with weight?
In places like Ascoli Piceno, there is a town square, where people come to meet, walk around, have a coffee or an anisette, get some air, pet a dog. Defrag. There is no “entrance” that needs to be made, no one that must be impressed with a big shiny car. It’s a rich life.
The people of the Marche, where Ascoli is, have a secret. No one really knows about the region. When Marcheggiani immigrate to the Americas or Australia or Denmark or wherever, they have a higher return-home-rate than any other region. They like their place. They might go to Canada and open up a hardware store and work it for 30 years, but, zap; they pack it up and head for the hills. Or the beach. Or both. It’s a rich life.
I was talking with some friends about a mutual friend who recently did that. He was from the Marche and he bought a convent in a town called Monteprandone. A pretty little walled city from the 1200’s, historical, quaint, in the cool hills above the white sand beaches of San Benedetto del Tronto. Great seafood, great meat, awesome vegetables, pretty wines.
He was going to restructure the convent, bought a little parcel of the building next door. A couple of apartments, an office space, maybe a cooking and wine school. A destination for wine and food lovers. Unfortunately he didn’t get to spend much time with the project, as cancer had other ideas for his future. Bon anima.
Big buildings on a marshy plane, lots of dreams in those buildings. A lot of hopes. Probably a good deal centered on the goal of acquiring wealth, after all this is a golden triangle of opportunity. In the green space below the tall buildings are multi million dollar homes, 7,000-10,000 square feet. Usually with a couple whose children are grown and gone. Another home in Aspen, August spent in the cool mountains in another 7,000-10,000 square foot house. Is it a rich life?
I am looking out at a multi-level parking lot at 2 o’clock in the morning. It is empty. Of course it is. No one can park there; it is for the valet police, not for the driver of the car. Remember the "law"? So we build these empty buildings that we cannot use or that we only partially inhabit, spending time in them, trying to amass wealth, homes cars, riches, maybe even fame. And on the way home, in the traffic, trying to pick up a son or a daughter and take them to ballet or soccer, in the air conditioned bubble of a SUV or maybe a Maserati, do we look out over our village from the penthouse and see what this rich life has cost us?
That little family who worked their hardware store for 30 years and went back to the Marche is not wealthy in monetary terms. But when they open up the door of their little house (which is paid for), and walk into their garden filled with eggplant, oregano, grapes, tomatoes, basilico, arugula, artichokes and whatever else will fit , they look out over their “assets” and know they truly have the rich life.