A light breeze blows through the kitchen of my uncles’ home, a little relief from the hot steam rising above the iron as I press a pair of linen shorts. Looking at my wrinkled line-dried clothes piled on the kitchen chair, I figure about another half hour and I’ll be finished. In the nearly seven weeks since I left the states I haven’t used a dryer once, nobody has them. I line dry all my clothes, leaving most of them needing to be ironed. I’m not sure I gave this any thought as I anticipated my departure to Italy. Now that I’m here it seems perfectly natural, like so many things; toast and jam for breakfast, late lunches and even later dinners, gelato nearly every day, sometime twice, stores and businesses closed in the middle of the day, many on weekends, and coffee, I am actually drinking honest to goodness espresso, sometimes standing at a counter, down the hatch in two swallows.
Admittedly I still feel more like a tourist than an expat with feet firmly planted in Italy. With the exception of a few visits from family and friends, I start each day with a pretty ambitious plan and when I’m alone it’s pretty easy to follow through. I study Italian for at least an hour each day, usually two, exercise along with daily yoga and meditation, laundry and groceries as needed, and writing, there is always the writing. And in between the lines of my daily list of things to do are countless visits to extraordinary historical sites, cathedrals and museums. Wandering has become a favorite pastime as well, some of my best discoveries have been made on the path less traveled.
With my days mostly full, I rarely dwell on the possibility of loneliness in the year ahead away from home, family and friends. I love receiving the occasional phone calls, but hate the goodbyes. Sweet texts and videos to say missing you, or wish you were here, make me smile and sometimes cry. My daughter sends me a text, Luca, so proudly announced while holding all of his postcards so far . . . “these are from my Nonna, she sends me a postcard from everywhere she goes because even when she’s far she wants me to know where she is!” Exactly like that. I smile teary eyed. I text a beautiful picture of a vineyard landscape to Matt and say, So wish you were here. He responds . . . I am with you, more happiness. Even without trying I see my peeps everywhere; in restaurants dining together and laughing, in the girlfriends sharing a glass of wine and a little gossip, and always in the families.
In the days of goodbyes preceding my trip, I comforted myself and others by promising that social media would keep us all connected, the space between us would hardly be noticed. I kept my promise, creating a daily pictorial diary on Facebook and Instagram, and friends have responded so kindly. The adventure is still very fresh, I am posting like a madwoman, but I know as I settle in the novelty will wear, communication will wane, and life in Italy will become my new normal, at least for a while.
I finish my ironing, and double up my clothing on hangers as I only have a few, and less than two feet of closet space. I am quite amazed; I have so quickly become accustomed to having so little. With an abundance of love and gratitude flowing to and from my heart, it’s hard to imagine needing or wanting more. But I do . . .
I miss the physical presence of close friends, my siblings, my children and grandchildren, particularly the reassuring familiarity. I have a longing that cannot be satisfied with Face Time, texting or a phone call . . . the desire for human touch. I miss leaning hard into hysterical laughter with my sisters and friends, I miss quick hugs and long embraces, I miss playground squeezes, I miss holding Luca’s hand, I miss touching my daughter’s hair, and kissing Aria’s tiny toes, I miss Matt pointing to his cheek indicating the exact spot I should kiss, I miss all of it, ever single bit of it.
My loves, while I long to kiss and hug you, to laugh and breath the same air, I will be happily satisfied with your messages of love, and knowing we will be together again. For now, you are with me in spirit as I watch the sunset, take in the beauty of every landscape, and experience the excitement of new adventures. I say your names and I can almost feel you . . .
More than ever . . .