Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Arriverderci, Italia!

Travel can be exhilarating, exciting and disorienting. I have flown dozens of times yet I continue to marvel that in such a short span of time I can be transported from one environment to another that is completely different. How is it possible that this morning I woke up at 5:30 in cool and misty Venice, where the hotel clerk gave me an unexpectedly affectionate sendoff and now, after many hours of travel by boat, bus and plane, and schlepping bags through several airports, and eating foie gras and drinking Bordeaux in my business class seat (using the extra miles was well worth it!), I am in warm and sunny Newton?

My cat, lovingly cared for by my mother in my absence, and oblivious to the miracle of modern travel, greeted me with her characteristic kvetchy meow.

I left Italy just as the rhythm of its language was beginning to sink in and I was getting used to eating dinner after 8pm and, like many Italians who eat a light breakfast while standing, to ordering my panini and espresso in the morning at the counter of the local pasticceria (the food at my B&B in Florence was skippable). Perhaps I was not quite ready to say goodbye, which in my experience is the best way to leave a country...to still want more without having gotten tired of the place. Sadly, I think I might have overdosed on Israel. On the train from Florence to Venice I was reading about many of the other cities and villages I could visit, and I am thinking that a pilgrimage to Perugia, home of the epynomous chocolate, could be an excellent excuse for another adventure.

The other disorienting part of travel has nothing to do with time zones and jumbo jets. My mischievous mind likes to play tricks on me and I am just beginning to learn how it works. Example: When I am here (in Boston), my mind tells me that I want to be somewhere else...anywhere else. "Just get me out of here!" screams my mind. And so, occasionally, I go. When I am somewhere else, my mind thinks of home, which - from afar - acquires a slight romantic glow. During grey New England winters, I tell myself that I want to be somewhere warm and sunny...and then I visit places with gentler climates and end up buying shoes and accessories that I can wear at home when the weather gets cold...at which time I want to be somewhere else.... This is how I end up with an enormous collection of woolen scarves, collected over the years in other countries during warm months. In Florence I picked up a few in a bit of an eleventh hour shopping frenzy (a potential topic for another posting: why is it that I - and others - spend more money at the very end of a trip?).

And so I am back, but without a home of my own. I will remain a nomad for an indeterminate amount of time, and I will attempt to sustain the attitude of a curious traveler while I decide what to do next, and where/how to live. Two of the nicest places I stayed during my travels - bed & breakfasts in Eilat and in Ravenna - were both spunkily decorated homes with relaxing and fragrant gardens. Being in these environments stoked a powerful desire for such a home of my own, except that for the last few years I've resented having to take care of even a postage stamp size yard.

For many minutes I have been staring at the computer screen, wracking my brain for a clever way to wrap up this posting. Since I'm no longer paying for computer time at one of Italy's many Internet cafes, I have the luxury of dawdling. But maybe the only thing I can say is, "Wherever I go, there I am", torn between wanting to be firmly rooted in a place and wanting to be unencumbered, free to go where I please.

To be continued.


Anonymous said...

Welcome home, Auntie I. I have so enjoyed following your journey, and look forward to the next installment... "I is for ????"

- Auntie A

Gabe Fried said...

Welcome back...maybe you can spend a few weeks or months Chez Winfield... http://winfieldproject.blogspot.com