I am slowly decompressing at the moment....slowly transitioning and preparing myself for the shock that may be about to hit me. I will be in San Clemente on Friday night. These last few days have been a time of pensive reflection...trying to sum up my experience, make some decisions about my life... My life continues to evolve. Visions are clear, but it seems to take so long to get where I want to be. And I am still in the process of definition.
Four months have passed. My life has changed. It is seeming that Italy has become a big part of my destiny. And where do I go from here?
From the moment I arrived, the little pieces of the puzzle started to come together by themselves, little by little, each one fitting snugly against the other...there are still many pieces left to fill in...without which this picture will not be complete....but the focus has become more clear.
I found my roots in Lacco Ameno, and uncovered the 150 year old birth documents of my great-grandparents which has consequently evolved into a quest for my dual Italian citizenship. There in Ischia, in the process of spending so many intimate moments in self reflection in its waters, in its churches, excavations, beaches and on the top of its volcano, I came to a more profound understanding not only of where I came from, but where I have to go from here.
In Firenze, I found a new and cozy home, which I could not bear to leave after 3 months, and so I arranged to stay for another year. I've gone to school and have developed a sufficient level of fluency to get along pretty well...but have a strong passion to continue this learning process. It appears that my thirst for Italy cannot be quenched.
While I was here, I made friends with Filippo, Lucia, Nicola's family, Giancarlo in Napoli, and Maria, Franco, Celeste and William in Ischia. And I deepened my friendship with Cynthia. These friendships will last forever.
I also joined a bike team, obtained my Italian racing license and made some dear new cycling friends....Rebecca, Rhiannon, Lorenzo, Leif and Lia in particular, and so many other new riding comrades with whom I ride every weekend. Together, we will participate in many cycling events this season, including a weekend road trip to climb the Madonna del Ghisallo, excursions to various Granfondo rides, and plans to follow several stages of the 2009 Giro d'Italia, most notably a 3 day trip to follow Stage 17 along the Amalfi Coast and up Monte Vesuvio.
It was also suggested that there may be an opportunity to work here in Tuscany as a bike tour guide upon my return this spring.
While I was here, I was visited by friends from afar....Lori, Fred, Donna and Kent from Orange County, Charlene from Napa Valley, Erma from Chicago, and Claudio from Brooklyn. Which all made me wonder what a diverse life I've had, and how so many people have contributed to my identity, experiences, and my future.
And I finally really discovered Napoli...a city that I've only passed through before, holding onto my purse in the train station, afraid of being accosted, on my way to the Amalfi Coast or Capri... due to it's reputation of being a chaotic, dirty and unsafe environment. But there in Napoli, I discovered just the opposite. I reveled in the beauty of the most overwhelming, abundant city on earth....a city of ironic contrasts, with an energy, a people, and a stunning beauty that no other city in the world can compete with. If I could pick the ultimate place to live, this would be it. The only thing I would add is good cycling roads. But for now, Firenze.
The biggest thing I've learned here, is to trust my gut better, for it has never failed me...
In 2 days I will be leaving, with 2 empty suitcases, leaving my clothes and bike behind here,with the intention to bring back more of my belongings when I return back here in a couple of months. I am on my way to see friends and family in San Clemente where I will work on the dual citizenship process and where I will make some difficult decsions that will affect the continuing story of my life, both inside and outside of Italy.
As I leave Firenze I wonder what destiny has in store for me. I am listening and ready to follow this voice that gets stronger and stronger from within.