I’m surrounded by garbage.
I didn’t discover there was a sanitation strike until after my opinion of the city had been soiled.
It’s hot and muggy.
The man standing in front of me obviously hasn’t showered in a very long time.
But then again, that could be me who smells.
This is Europe, and personal hygiene goes out the window after about three days of travel.
A standard European bathroom leaves much to desired, and absolutely everything in the room is soaking wet after each attempt with the handheld shower wand.
Take a swim in a river. Or wait for rain. Trust me, it’s easier.
The man I’m standing behind is enjoying the fact that he isn’t bothered by the heat while I am.
I’ve been in Italy for five days, yet I still feel like my body will liquefy at any moment.
The line begins to move, and for the first time I allow myself to think about air conditioning.
Silly thoughts, really, because it’s very rare that a museum in Europe is actually air conditioned.
The buildings are hundreds of years old, and I doubt that Bernini and Michelangelo were thinking about future cooling systems when they designed buildings.
As I stop just outside the main entrance, I grab a pen and vandalize the graffiti-covered wall.
Every hour, my brother and I made a note of how long we had been standing in line.
We got the idea from the hundreds of people who had marked the wall before us.
I felt especially bad for Cindy from Newfoundland, who stood outside for seven hours with a screaming baby and a three-year-old.
But I will admit, reading the slow progress of others helped me survive the unbearable heat.
And then, it happened.
Just as I began to become overly cynical about Florence, the museum employee lowered the red rope, and we were ushered inside the building.
No air conditioning – just as I suspected – but that didn’t matter anymore.
I threaded my way through wide, marbled hallways, eyes searching fervently for one particular exhibit.
And then, I found him.
Standing tall, regal, and sexy at the end of the hallway, was Michelangelo’s David.
It took my breath away, and I managed to catch a tear running down my cheek before anyone noticed I was crying.
Honestly thought, I doubt anyone would really blame me for crying.
Gazing at David for the first time is enough to make a grown man weep like he had just been kicked in the balls by a woman wearing stilettos.
It’s a truly beautiful moment.
As I got closer, I realized that David wasn’t proportioned properly.
His hands and feet were too large, his head was gigantic, and his limbs seemed unnaturally small.
What was up with that?
I brought my confusion to an employee’s attention, and she kindly explained that Michelangelo engineered David to be disproportioned on purpose.
That way, he would look perfect from far away or from above.
Smart man, that Michelangelo. He did good work on the Sistine Chapel too.
I walked around the magnificent statue 10, maybe 15 times, and took in as many details as possible.
The veins running through his arms are realistic.
The muscles in his legs are toned.
His hair, his hands, and his lips all look like they belong to a real flesh-and-blood human being.
Seriously, everything looks real.
I walked out of the museum, back into the dry Florence heat, feeling completely fulfilled.
Some people live their entire lives without laying eyes on the real David, and I had just spent a fantastic, memorable hour with him.
Purchasing a bottle of water and dousing myself with it, I trudged away from the museum through the piles of garbage.
The smelly man from the line-up was sitting on a bench smoking, and he smiled at me as I walked past.
I was hot and uncomfortable again, eagerly anticipating returning to the hostel, but so my surprise, I smiled back.
I had just seen David, after all. What’s a little heat and garbage, really?