Greetings from the USA. That’s right – I’m officially back in the homeland for the foreseeable future. I’m 99% unpacked and rarin’ to pig out on everything I’ve missed these past eight months – food, gossip, hanging out with friends. I’ve been home for almost a week now, and this blog post has been sitting around waiting to be posted because I see it as the cherry on the being-home-sundae. It’s the final proof that (for now) my time in Italy is over and I’m starting of a new phase of my life. Nothing like making things official by putting them on the Internet.
So rewind to my last two weeks in Italy: I visited cousins near Pescara as well as cousins in Liguria. Lots of beach time, sunshine, crossing things off my reading list and good food. Pescara is known for its arrosticini or sheep’s meat skewers, which didn’t fail to disappoint. We also tried this awesome flat-bread-esque pizza called a pinse at pizzeria Girasole. My cousins in Liguria served up fish, pesto and tons of fluffy, oily focaccia. They’ve also got a huge vegetable patch in their backyard, so I got my fair share of fresh peaches, tomatoes, zucchini and eggplants.
Then I headed to Bologna for my last full week in Italy, which really felt more like two days. Between random bouts of packing, I made my farewell rounds to all my favorite spots, visited my top gelaterie and said “ci vediamo” (never “addio”) to all my Italian friends. Then suddenly it was Tuesday morning and we arrived at the airport, only to hear that for some strange reason, my flight just didn’t exist that day. Delighted as I envisioned an extended stay in Italy, I was quickly called to reality when the woman at the help desk told me not to worry, I had been rebooked for a flight later that afternoon. (So much for Italia, part two).
Being home has definitely required a reboot. Moving home after living on your own is never easy, less so when most of your friends have also moved away to pursue jobs or school and you find yourself becoming one with your couch and watching a lot of Chopped. And then there’s the fact that I’ve moved home to a pretty quiet town, surrounded by other pretty quiet towns. Nothing like the bustling center of Bologna with beautiful architecture, charming porticoes and sprawling public parks and piazzas. Yes, ok, I do live a stone’s throw from Manhattan. But comparing New York City to Bologna is like comparing apples to … prosciutto-wrapped figs. And I’m much more partial to the latter.
There are a ton of sayings on the internet that pertain to how I’ve been feeling these past few days and the two that really resonate with me the most are the following:
“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.” – Azar Nafisi
I love both of these sayings because they capture the bittersweetness of being a travel bug. I have an intense desire to start planning new trips already, despite just arriving home, but I have to take some time to adapt before I rush off again. I have been so fortunate to get to travel and live an experience that I could have only dreamed possible a few years before. I know the friendships I made can withstand the distances we will all travel these next few years. And I feel that the only way to go forward is to see my upcoming experiences at home as a way to continue forming who I am and a chance to see the world from yet another angle. I may not be the same person as when I left for Italy, or as when I left Italy a week ago, but I know that I am a better one, thanks to these past two years.