I went to Italy for the month of September. If you are my friend or follower on social media, you already know this. You saw how much fun I had.
It was not exactly a vacation, and if you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed that I have never once referred to it as that. It was a trip, an odyssey, a pilgrimage, a journey—but not a vacation by any means. It included virtually no rest, and lots of hard emotional work stirred in with all the fun.
Why a month in Italy? Well there’s the level of reply which is, “Why not?!” Italy is awesome and September is a great month to be somewhere besides Tamarindo. So there’s that. But you know me—this was so much more.
I wanted to go to Italy to see Pio’s family—his children and the new grandson I hadn’t met, his brothers and their wives, the nieces and nephews… Escorting someone you love out of this life is an intensely bonding experience and we all did it together only two years ago. I wanted to go see them again. I wanted to demonstrate that I am the family member you won’t lose unless you want to. I wanted to introduce myself as ME, here because I choose to be, not because of who’s wife I am. I wanted to retrace the steps to the hospital, the grocery store, the markets, the landmarks I loved…everything. Why? Because. It didn’t make me sad, especially. It made me happy. I am the girl who owns my stories. All of them.
When Pio was sick, he promised me that when he got better, he would take me to Rome. I said that would be great, but I knew it was never going to happen. So I went to Rome myself. When I say I went to Rome myself, understand that the the only time I was actually by myself in Rome was on the train! I had friends waiting for me at the train station, friends taking me to their houses to eat and sleep, friends taking me to dinner, taking me around the city, taking me to the beach… Five days was not nearly enough.
After the Rome excursion, I brought my sunburnt self back to Milan for a few days, then went to the east end of the country, to Gorizia near the border of Slovenia. I toured breathtaking mountains on the back of a motorcycle, ate like a queen, and went to Venice for a day. Then back to Milan. The last excursion took me to the west side of Italy, to Sanremo to visit Pio’s daughter. She’s almost 21 now. Pio and I visited her there in 2015, so it was a somewhat familiar place. In Sanremo I rented my own apartment, so I was able to eat a fraction of what I was eating as a guest in the homes of friends/family, wander around the city on my own while Kiara was at work, and go to bed early.
I have a feeling that Kiara, young and spontaneous, voiced the thoughts of—um, maybe everyone?–as she hugged me, bursting out with, “Why did you come to Italy?!”
I told her what I told you in the beginning of this post. But that’s not the whole story, either. Part of the answer is, “I don’t know.” But it was a very important trip. I needed to go to close a circle. I needed to hand-deliver my new book, Certain as Afternoon, to certain people. Would I really buy a plane ticket to Europe and take a month of no pay just to do that?
Because I have this theory that not everything has to make sense. Making sense is over-rated. I have this theory that we don’t know everything–that sometime things that seem important for no apparent reason really ARE important. I have this theory that our 5 senses do not actually provide us with information on 100% of what is going on around us. They provide us with what we need not to get run over by buses in the street, but that’s about it. I think there are things that are true and we are unable to perceive them, mostly, because of senses we don’t have. Like a deaf person who can’t hear the music but feels the vibration of it and can dance to it anyway. Sometimes I dance to music I don’t actually hear. But the rhythm is right.
And so I went to Italy, during the month that, 2 years ago, Pio was sick and dying. I took the same metros, walked past the hospital, had a sandwich at the bar by the hospital. Walked in the parks. The Duomo. The Castello. Ate gelato. Took a copy of my book to the office of The Merciful Doctor and left it there for him. And I traveled around and saw new places and met new people and had excellent adventures.
I am a spider working on my web, making a place to live out of the silk in my belly. Going back and forth, up and down, connecting things to each other. Guided by instinct, not ideas. Fixing the parts that are torn. Just you wait and see: it will be beautiful.
Maybe I had to go so that I could come back. Re-enter. Begin again. I don’t know. I don’t hear the music, but I feel the vibrations. And I feel like a million bucks.
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Absolutely loved this line: “I am the girl who owns my stories. All of them.” I share the same sentiment, and it’s liberating.