Sunday, December 5, 2010
Reflections in the Arno
It’s Sunday morning. My flight back to the States leaves Geneva on Tuesday but I leave Florence on Monday. Typical for me, just when I’m feeling really comfortable, it’s time to go.
Strangely enough I’m not so eager to go back to a place where I understand the conversation. I’ve learned over the past six weeks that true communication has nothing to do with language and everything to do with the energy that is given and received. This experience has been a great opportunity for me to learn how to communicate without language skills and to read other people’s energy. I often struggle to keep a conversation going anyway, so being able to look at someone blankly and say “non capisco” turns out to be a beautiful thing. My experience of being alone in Italy has been enlightening and enlivening for me in all kinds of ways.
About three weeks into living here the outside noise that echoes continuously within this apartment became an undercurrent in the background rather than front and center chaos. The noise was bothersome because it reflected the internal chaos I felt at the time. And the location of the apartment is truly convenient, central to everything. And I would never have seen David being paraded down the street in a cart if I stayed somewhere else.
I did finally get the heaters to work but I never did get used to the spurting, scalding hot water that comes immediately out of the taps in this place.
Fear of showering was never on my list of topics to talk with a shrink about, but IT IS NOW! The burn on my arm has just healed from the first night’s shower. I learned how to get a balanced temperature flowing without burning my arm but every time in the midst of the shower the cold water stops and scalding hot water bursts out. There’s no place to jump out of the way. Every time before entering I give myself a pep talk, “Come on. You can do it. Just get in there and get it over with.”
I came to Italy and Africa to experience what it would be like to live for a bit in other cultures where English is not the first language rather than to simply travel as a tourist. I leave today after spending four weeks in Africa and eight weeks in Italy with a deeper respect for my father, who immigrated from Germany to America in the 1920’s, and for all people who leave the safety and comfort of the known to make their way in another land. And I have the highest esteem for anyone who moves to a new culture without the security blanket of a partner, friends in the area, or family like my friend Marc did moving from Switzerland to Hawaii.
All aspects of this adventure have served me in ways that I won’t describe here because I can’t yet. What has taken place for me is so far beyond the trivial words I write. The experiences of the last three months have been both joyful and exciting and at times have shaken me to my core. It was the ‘best of times and the worst of times’ and I’ve enjoyed every second of all of it. Better still I didn’t just survive, I’m thriving.
I’ve met wonderful and not-so-wonderful people. I’ve seen amazing, phenomenal sights complete with wonderful and not-so-wonderful smells, textures, tastes and sounds. I’ve been hugged and kissed by complete strangers who exuberantly let me know that in some way they find me beautiful. Those experiences alone would have made it all worthwhile. But something even greater happened. I made a new friend in Africa with a bond so strong that it won’t matter whether we ever meet in person again or not. Tashi is 21 years of pure love - so open and so sweet. He emails whenever he scrapes together 1000 shillings to use the internet. "My tears dropped down the last night. Please never forget me." And there is no way I ever will forget him.
I’m not packed yet, but I’m ready to leave! I feel like I’ve completed whatever this was all about and maybe someday I’ll know what that was, maybe not. I’m eager to be surrounded by my children and my grandchildren! They are the cake! These adventures are just the frosting. There are many times I wish I could be a more traditional mom and grandma. I do understand what I’m giving up. But that’s not who I am and I appreciate that my family allows me the space to taste the sweetness of life in a way that works for me. And I’m ever so happy to share it with all of you. And if you wrote to me even a line while I've been away, bless you. It meant more than you'll ever know.
Arrivederci Firenze! Next Stop: Ft. Mitchell, KY!! Yeah! You see I may not be able to stop blogging. It has become an addiction.