when evening rolled around i went into boston to meet renata at the north end to watch the last night of the fisherman's feast festival which culminates with the flight of the angel, where a little girl dressed as an angel is lowered down from a building's window to visit the madonna, then hoisted back in the air, followed by a confetti shower. i got off at downtown crossing to take the orange line to haymarket. apparently i went the wrong direction, and got off at the new england medical station to take the train in the opposite direction. by complete coincidence i ran into the same cabin with renata going into the north end from JP. "your hair grew out," she said, then started to pet my stubbly head. the train stopped at downtown crossing with an announcement that due to construction work, dtx was the last stop (with a shuttle service to the remaining stations). renata and i decided to just get off and walk to the north end, about 15 minutes away.
renata had already been here last night with her parents, and i'd been here with julie friday night. when i called renata last night about doing something fun tonight (to celebrate her last graduate school class), she immediately blurted out, "is it an italian thing?" like she was reading my mind. when renata was a little girl, her parents brought her to the fisherman's feast to watch the flight of the angel, so she'd seen it before, but not since she was a kid. for her, it was a trip down memory's road. as for me, this was my first time, and it felt like going to another country, observing an unique religious ceremony with people speaking a foreign (italian) language (it might as well have been burma in its level of exoticness). we walked the festival streets and watched troops of marching bands getting ready for the grand finale. they blocked busy streets, playing their instruments, serenading restaurants.
with minutes away from the start of the angel flight, we went back to north street to stand beneath a series of wires and ropes tied between two brickstone buildings across a narrow street. there were spotlights and audio equipments, and the balconies were decorated to look like mini-stages. heads would poke out of apartment building windows or over the side of the roofs; renata would point to the ones she wanted me to take photos of. renata seemed enthralled to be surrounded by so much people watching opportunities. we heard some funny conversations, like when a very italian-sounding woman told the story of how one of the angels isn't italian but greek but the apartment they're using belongs to a greek family so she got a spot as one of the angels.
we waited a long time before the angel took flight. first the band had to come down the street, with the procession of the madonna behind them, covered with a skirt of money. once everything was in place, there was a call for "silencio" from one of two side angels. the side angels alternated narrating in italian (video with audio); it was obvious they just memorized the speeches because they spoke with a sing-songy cadence. i caught a word or two with my rudimentary high school spanish.
then a 3rd angel - the flying angel - was hoisted out of a 4th story window and slowly lowered above a crowd of men in front of the madonna statue. never mind that the idea of hanging a child several stories over a crowd of people seem a bit like child abuse; apparently it's quite an honor for the girl and her family, and there's probably a long line of children waiting to be angels. she seemed scared at first, coming out with her eyes closed, but soon got into the moment to become a flying angel. the girl gave a short speech in italian (in that same sing-songy style), before she was lifted back up into the air, returning to her window perch. balloons were released, everyone cheered, and the sky started to shower paper confetti; and not the small ity-bitty kind mind you, but big strips of paper noodles that hung on all the wires like wet snow.
trampling through a sea of confetti, we made our way to pizzeria regina, which renata said is her favorite pizza place of all times. thankfully i went on friday night otherwise i wouldn't have been able to find the place. she called back her friend jane, confessing that she had taken jane's house keys as well (she knew something was wrong when her bag felt heavy). pizzeria regina wasn't very crowded and we got seated right away. "do you know what i love most about this place?" renata asked me, "the tough love," as a waitress shoved a pair of plates and some utensils onto the table. we ordered the same pizza i had friday night but in a smaller size (9"), along with matching root beers. we talked about hong kong director wong karwai, and renata wanted to watch chungking express again, one of my favorite movies, so i could explain it to her. despite the smaller pizza, we still left with two slices, which i took home because i didn't want renata to have to choose between pizzeria regina leftovers and her mother's home-cooked leftovers.
along the way we bumped into one of renata's neighbors. we walked with him to north station before making an u-turn back to downtown crossing (trains weren't in service from here, there were just shuttle buses). we passed a homeless couple and i gave them my leftover pizza, which they seemed grateful. renata was voicing some concern about trying to find a new job. that's when a bike messenger passed by us and shouted "sexy!" in obvious reference to renata. "who was he talking to?" i asked, knowing the answer already. "to you," renata said. "i should've asked him how much [he wanted to pay], because you're not cheap," i replied, as renata slapped me in retaliation. i continued, "a job opportunity is falling in your lap and you're not taking it!" we parted ways at downtown crossing, renata riding the orange while i took the red. once i got back to porter square i called to see if she got home safely.
i returned home myself to find that the red sox had won their game today. good news all around!