These entries have come to me pretty easy until now. I feel like I’m in between worlds, unsure of where to land. I have an overbearing sense of sadness with my adventures ending, yet an excitement for the storytelling process. It’s as if I feel an obligation to myself, my travels, my experiences and the immense kindness that was offered to me to create something special.
However, I have been slightly knocked on my ass. In one of my earlier entries I mentioned that I have my own speed at which I experience things and, its not super fast. Well, …here I am. Immersion, culture shock, jet lag and most of all, … wanderlust. I love my home, my community and my family (both chosen and given) but the world is so fucking magnificent. I love leaving as much as l love coming home. It took me nearly a week to get past the jet lag. I don’t think my mind or body belonged to any time zone ~ so, once I stopped it punched me in the neck. Then there was the issue of me settling into my normalcy and routines. I was no longer a minority, no one stared at me and I wasn’t doing anything epic (like climbing a mountain or being on a bridge site). I was just another average woman going to the store. This is a great thing and a not so great thing all at the same time.
I don’t want to forget what I was feeling while I was gone. You know that feeling, this time of year ~ the one where the ground is backlit from the color of the leaves and the light is JUST that much different? Where you feel like you can reach your hand out and grab a chunk of that color/feeling? Take THAT feeling and carefully insert it into every cell of your being then you’d start to come close to what my time traveling the world was like. I don’t want to forget how hard other people work and how easy we have it in this country. I DO want to change how I interact with others. In my travels the only thing I was offered was kindness, compassion and assistance. Not just this trip either, every time I’ve traveled alone I have always been offered kindness from strangers. I wish we could all have perspective when dealing with each other. I don’t want to fall into the gap, the normalcy of not going out of my way for another. Energy is a strange thing… an enigma and we have the “choice” of passing it on or eating it up. It’s a challenging balance to learn boundaries of when to do EACH of these things. People are amazing. Human beings are capable of so many lovely things within each day ~ we simply have to choose to do them. It’s easy to say people are shit, and some are but if so …walk away. The world has many more good eggs than bad and that …that is amazing.
About a decade ago my grandmother died of Alzheimer’s. I grew up with her in a farmhouse. In fact when I was a kid we had 4 generations under one roof. That’s pretty normal for an Italian family. I was lucky enough to be there when she died at home under hospice care. It’s a beautiful thing to watch someone leave this planet ~ a gift really. During that time I decided I would go see her hometown in Italy. A tiny little village on a hilltop in the Abruzzo Region ~ Gambetessa, Italy. I spent most of my summer in Italy that year. It was so lovely to walk into a train station and not know where I would go next. I would simply look up at the board of Departures as it flipped down and displayed the magic of where the trains were going. Then, I’d buy a ticket that was departing soon for a town that seemed like someplace I should see. I didn’t have to discuss with anyone, I made no plans ~ I just decided that day where to go next. What a great way to travel. Anyway, I bought a ticket to Campobasso and was on my way. However, if you know Italy ~ there is often a ‘strike’ with the train system. This can last a few hours or a few days, and I’ve been caught in both of those situations. This time it lasted a few hours and only on certain routes. So, I took a train, a bus, then a train, then a bus and finally a train. It was 10:30 at night and I was riding an empty train except for 2 young women. They kindly asked me where I was from and we started talking. I asked them for a suggestion on a place to stay and they told me most places would be closed by the time we arrived. Without hesitation one girl made a phone call and asked her boyfriend to call his aunt who ran a pensione. When we arrived at the train station they gave me a ride to the pensione and made sure I was settled and okay. All three of them gave me a hug and wished me well in my quest to visit my grandmother’s hometown. The next day I walked to the bus station and hopped on a bus to Gambetessa. When I arrived, I walked into the tiny town square with a beautiful clock tower building. Three teenagers were playing soccer in front of it. I asked them if they knew of a hotel. All three of them laugh then told me there was no hotel in Gambetessa. I was shaking. I pulled out the yellow piece of legal paper I had written my questions in Italian on (I still have it). I started to unfold it and I could see an older man dressed in a light blue shirt with glasses half way down his nose approaching me. He gestured with his hand as if to ask, “may I?” to the paper. I gave it to him as I welled up. He pushed his glassed up his nose, read the piece of paper then… offered me his arm to follow him into the clock tower building. He brought me inside, sat me down then went over to a shelf and pulled out a BIG leather bound book. When he opened it, it took up his entire desk. The pages were worn with beautiful handwritten entries. He scanned the entries with his finger, page by page until he stopped and looked up at me. Then he said, “Victoria Maria DeLuca … here.” By this time, I was crying. I looked down and there it was, proof that she was born in Gambetessa. I was elated and exhausted. I plopped down, unsure of what to do next. Giovanni (the man in the blue shirt) made a few phone calls and with my limited understanding of Italian & the speed at which he spoke, I caught every few words… “It looks like she walked here” or “no… she’s young.” He left me there for a moment while he went to get the girl working at the pharmacy who was English to translate for me. She informed me that I had family that still lived here and they have been notified of my arrival, …they were walking over to meet me now. While I waited to meet my family the strangest thing happened. These elderly people came to meet me as well. One by one ~ frail men and women with silver hair and watery blue eyes came in to shake my hand or hug me. They were tiny… I remember because I was sitting down and we were making eye contact. Some of them, hunched over from working in the fields or from old age. These people were my grandmothers childhood friends and came to meet ME!
My grandmothers first cousin would soon arrive ~ Concetta. She didn’t speak a lick of English and I was so emotive my Italian was out the door. The Pharmacist helped me communicate and off I went to Concetta’s house but first we all went to the bar/coffeehouse to have a toast. About 7 of us filled the tiny coffeehouse as we raised our glasses to celebrate my arrival. Concetta lived a few doors down from her sister Josephina. They took me in for about a week. They made me the best homemade pasta ever, and gave me wine they had made in their basement ~ which knocked me on my ass and blood sausage, which I’m not sure I’ll ever have again. I was shown the remains of the farmhouse my grandmother was born in. I had an old photo of it that I brought with me to show them. To stand in front of the remains of a building, of the same place I held a old, old picture of was … surreal. To watch these people that were my family and recognize the similarities that come with family was truly magical.
Like I said people are wonderful.
My ‘funk’ of being home comes and goes. The fact is, what I make of my life is what matters not where I do it. The world is a beautiful place and to travel is a gift. But, right here in my neighborhood is also a beautiful place as well. The choice to be kind and open to people is the value here. The navigation of energy you wish to give and energy you wish to receive is the challenge. Some days it is defeating or unsuccessful. But some days ~ it isn’t.
Here’s to more of the latter.