"Wait here!" said the professor. "I'll be back in an hour!" But he didn't come back.
I was sitting on a wall below the Papal Palace in Viterbo, Italy, when the familiar character had approached me excitedly, from under the bridge.
"You are the artist! I have something for you! A book! I must go into town to shop, but you will be here in an hour?"
"Yes," I said. "My drawings take a long time."
Then he hustled up the long staircase to town.
I sat and drew, and baked in the sun, and waited. The sun crawled across the staircase, from left to right, but he didn't come back. I sat as long as I could before I had to go teach my class.
We met last year. He said he was a professor from Milan who came to Viterbo every July, to take in the cultural festival called "Caffeina." He told me all about the Templars and their history in the town. He lived next to the Medieval church of the Templars.
It's surprising to be recognized in a foreign place. I draw as if I'm a fly on the wall. I sit for hours and the world goes by uninterrupted. I think of myself as an invisible witness. But that's not so. Last year, while the professor was giving me his history lesson, an old man in a grey hat shuffled past, on the other side of the street. The professor excitedly shouted to the man that an artist was in town! From the United States! He pointed at me.
The old man slowly looked me up and down, unimpressed. "Yes, I know... he's been coming here for a few years now," he said flatly and walked on.
He was right. I'd drawn in his neighborhood before, over the course of the last few years.
Note to self: The observer is also the observed.