Parting is Not Such Sweet Sorrow
Whoever said that parting is such sweet sorrow was a liar. Sorry, Shakespeare, I don’t mean to blaspheme, but…. Saying goodbye can be done sweetly, and parting is often sorrowful, but sorrow is not sweet (unless you’re masochistic) and one’s departure is rarely an occasion in which “sweet sorrow” would be an appropriate description.
I leave Italy tomorrow. Not even a dozen weeks in and I already feel like a resident. Walking down the main street of Cisterna di Latina, the little town where I’ve resided, I feel nostalgic for a second. It’s strange to feel this way about the paese (village/region) that seemed so foreign not long ago. Though a small part of me is curious to see what it’ll be like to be back home, a bigger part of me is bummed to be going back. In fact, a friend had asked yesterday if I missed my condo. Surprisingly, the answer was –quickly and unhesitatingly– no.
I’ve been away for four months, so I don’t even know what it feels like to sleep in my own bed anymore. After time in the Philippines and on Guam, it was tough saying goodbye to my family. However, I had Italy to look forward to; the lure of Italy eased my dampened spirits at leaving loved ones behind. The sadness of leaving Italy, however, isn’t eased by a sparkly travel adventure in the near future. It is, instead, made harder by a sudden return to “reality.” Whatever that now looks like.
Perhaps it’s melodramatic, but the thought of Italy was my light and calm amidst an inner tempest. It was the flash of color in my sepia-toned monotony. There was an inexplicable pull towards il bel paese that I could never quite explain. The only thing I was certain of was that I had to go find out what that pull was. It could have turned out to be nothing but fabulous stories for my grandchildren. It could have been the time I’d always wanted to sit down and write. It could have been a grand exploration of people, and culture, and life. It could have been an extended cooking course. It could have been a lesson on getting in touch with one’s emotions. It could have been a lesson in self-discovery. It could have been a foray into the unknown that jolted me back into feeling alive. It could have been many things.
It turned out to be all of that…and then some.
It’s no secret that I love food. Food and wine and good company. It’s a recipe for a happy heart and a happy waistline. With some foresight, I’d packed mostly loose-fitting clothing for my travels, and now fear how the rest of my wardrobe will fit upon return. I’ve eaten way too much in my time away. Waaay too much. And up until recently, I hadn’t thought much about my adventures being anything like Eat, Pray, Love…until a dear friend pointed it out to me. Coincidentally, we happened to be in Naples on our way to a favored local pizzeria. Guess what city the story’s heroine goes to, and what she eats there. That, however, is not what prompted the observation. At least I don’t think that’s what it was. I suspect it’s because we were visiting so many churches in the city’s historic center. That, in conjunction with my having seen so many churches already, might have made one think I was vying for a spot at a nearby convent. (I wasn’t.) When entering such impressive, intricate chiese (churches), it’s difficult not to feel compelled to speak with that great, unseen entity whose presence fills those elaborately designed spaces. In all this time, I’ve certainly done a significant amount of reflection and speaking to the powers that be. I know I said before that this trip wasn’t really about finding myself; but, for lack of a better term, soul-searching probably best describes whatever voyage I’ve been on. I can’t say I’ve come out with any clearer ideas of where life will lead, but I’m finally ready for a bird’s-eye view and a change in the status quo.