|A post-prandial passeggiata in Fiumicino|
Of course I will be happy to see all my friends, to play music again and exercise in the pool and go to my meetings and to zumba, to wear something besides the same four or five outfits I've been living in for two months, to be able to sleep in a cool room without running the air conditioner all night.
But I also feel very sad to be leaving Italy and the untethered existence I've enjoyed here. I don't know how much this is because of Italy's many charms in particular, and how much because I've been doing what people in the 12-step world call "a geographic"--that is, running away from what's difficult rather than dealing with it.
For example, I've been keeping up with the political news from home, thanks to the internet. It seems even more like a "House of Cards" knock-off miniseries when seen from this distance. But I've made zero effort to acquaint myself with Italian politics, and I've mostly avoided talking about such issues with any of my new Italian friends.
One evening, after a few drinks at the Circolo in Montagano, our friend Claudio asked us, "So, what do you think about Mr. Trump?" This was the first time politics had come up during our time there, and we started reflexively exclaiming how ashamed of and horrified by our president we are. But it turned out Claudio and Maria did not possess that same reflex.
"We think he's pretty good," Claudio said, with a smile. And I saw that he liked Trump so much he didn't even realize he ought to be defensive about it. I began pointing out how wrong he was--another reflex--and Maria answered that at least Trump was doing something about "the foreigners." She didn't mean "foreigners" like us, of course, but people with darker skins and no Italian grandparents.
Luckily my daughter, who obviously holds her liquor better than I do, nudged me in the ribs and said brightly, "Let's talk about something else!" Because we like Claudio and Maria a lot and, in the few days we had left in Montagano, nothing good was going to come of fighting about issues that have been ruining friendships all over the United States.
Back home, in my real life, I'm not sure I'd be able to let this go. I also suspect I'd feel judgmental about a lot of other things about my Italian friends' political, religious, and nutritional beliefs. But here in Italy I'm allowed--I've allowed myself--to be a lot more relaxed about things than I am at home. I can't decide if that's a step forward or a moral collapse.
Among the other things I've let go of--temporarily, I trust--are practicing the violin (I left the instrument in New York six weeks ago), tracking my WeightWatchers points, daily meditation, and most of my exercise regimen. I'm not looking forward to the work I'll have to do to get my fingers, my waistline, and my spiritual life back into shape, but still I'm pleased that I've managed to enjoy myself so thoroughly during this trip while feeling surprisingly little guilt about setting aside my rather compulsive routines.
(Well, some of them. I've gotten pretty compulsive about DuoLingo and about this blog...)
It is also true that I feel attached to Italy in a deeper way than I have to other places I've traveled to. Partly it's the prospect of citizenship and of becoming more deeply acquainted with my grandfather's history and my father's, too. Partly it's beginning the process of learning the language, which is another kind of connection.
I'm glad we're not buying a house here. I'm not tempted by the idea of living in Italy full time--I am too American and too old to be transplanted. But I do love it here, more than I ever have before. And it's not only the food.
I am glad, mostly, to be going home. But I can't wait to come back.