I find myself again at that moment between letting go of summer, and trying to welcome fall. I have always loved summer so much, I am honest with anyone that asks, if I had my way, and someday, I will….I would live in endless summer. I don’t know if it is a combination of sunshine and sundresses, sandals and sipping beer on beaches, but summer is just my thing. And, adventure in the summer is also my thing. So, this summer’s adventures have created a difficulty for me in the adjustment of re-entry.
On August 8th, I woke up just about as south in Kansas as one can be without being in Oklahoma. I knew that when I woke up that morning it was no longer going to be a decision about where I would sleep that night, as it would have to be Billings, Montana. No matter what my heart was saying, my head knew that it was time to turn north and re-enter the atmosphere of responsibility and commitments, work and coaching, life when NOT on hiatus. I am not going to lie, as I drove that 1,065 miles from southern Kansas to southern Montana, I was mostly sad. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to be done wandering. I didn’t want to wake up in a familiar place. I didn’t want to be done with my summer walk-about. I was starting to feel that lump in my throat of sad and sorrow.
I know, not everyone has the ability to do what I have done for the past two summers, to simply wander, to adventure, to wake up in strange cities, to meet new people, and to re-connect with dear friends and family across the miles. I am blessed. I wish that I could explain what impels me to wander, but I don’t know what it is. I have thought about it, I have thought about if it is my rootless life that has made me feel less like a tree grounded and more like a feather on the breeze. I have wondered if it is the way my mom used to throw us in the car at strange times, on strange days, to take off on a cross country roadtrip. I have wondered if it lies in my desire to experience things unknown to me, to taste of new things, to see the world around me, to touch and to feel.
I don’t know what the answer is. I do know that this summer, as I headed off for my summer walkabout, I knew a few things to be true, there would be firsts, but there would be homecomings as well.
One first that I knew would come was putting my feet on the ground in Italy. You might say that Italy was a “spur of the moment” decision. Having mentioned once to my friend Lynne that I wanted to go, it really just became a reality in the late spring. The stars and the moon just aligned right (not the eclipse kind of aligned), and within just a few weeks, we had the plan made…Italy.
Our first stop was Parma. Parma filled my whole heart and soul with perhaps the best introduction to the people, the food, the country and the heart of Italy. I wasn’t prepared for the colors in the buildings, the warmth of the faces, the smell of sweet gelato as you wander past the storefront. Parma is this lovely place, surrounded by countryside that is abundant with food grains, grapes, and these hills that roll towards the Italian Apennines. And, Parma is Frank’s home. There is a longer story, that isn’t mine to tell, but Frank has always been a name I have heard for the 17 years that I have known and loved my Lynne and her family. Frank, who’s connections to the Hogue/Collins/Erickson family maintain as time passes, is a complete joy of a human, as is his beautiful wife, Marielena. With Frank in Parma, I experienced so many things that I will never forget…dinner on a farm overlooking a castle on a hill, hiking in the Apennines, gelato sandwiches, and so much more…(even a run one morning that I almost died on…for a “I am not a runner” runner…Frank’s pace about killed me until I bowed out and said I would go my own pace). Leaving Parma felt like a loss. I wasn’t sure if the rest of Italy could match up.
But, it did. In fact, it continued to only get better. As I rode across the beautiful country on trains, and wandered and ran among ruins, and put my toes, and then my bum into the Mediterranean, I just continued to fall in love with Italy. I fell in love with the people, with the skies, with the language, with the fact that sometimes you are lucky enough to find a great German beer as you look at ancient Roman ruins while enjoying the best apertivo imaginable.
I loved getting up in the morning in the hustle and bustle of Sicily, after listening to the city breathe all night, to take a run and watch the sun sparkle off the water of the Mediterranean with Mount Vesuvius in the distance. I loved laying on the beach of the sea, with the warmth of the sun on my belly and even on my breasts as topless is a bother to no one. To feel the sun on my face and shoulders, and to wander…it was all enhanced by the sights, sounds and tastes of Italy.
In Italy, I was powerfully reminded of how small my world view has been, even as I try to educate myself, as I try to remember that the world is huge, and that one thing about humanity unites us…our ability to love. “Ti adoro…Italia”. I adore Italy. I adore that I could explore, could taste, could adventure across your breath, to taste to salt of the sea on my lips, to be immersed in the beauty and the stark reminders of history and culture, and to never, ever feel as if I didn’t belong in your heart.
To say that I am blessed to have a life that is so full of adventure is an understatement. I am so fucking grateful that I have a heart that is unafraid of adventure, I am so thankful that in me there is wanderlust. And that in my heart is the ability to embrace adventure, to seek the moments in life in which I experience that wanderlust that bring me Commuovere. Commuovere, the power to be stirred…to be touched…to be moved to tears.
Italy, you made your mark on my heart, you stirred me, you moved me to tears, you changed my heart, the mark remains. I will be back, thank you for loving me and embracing me with your living soul and spirit.