The answer, my friends, is that I don't know. I thought that by now I would have made plans to return to the U.S. for the holidays. I am struggling to understand why I am not feeling this desire. Why am I not compelled to go home to New York for Christmas, after living and working there for 50 years? .
And why have I not yet booked a flight to California? To reunite with friends, to see the coast, to ride my bike, to feel the sun, to actually drive a car? To escape the cold. To maybe go to the gym? To perhaps lose those few pounds that have insidiously accumulated from an overdose of olive oil, wine, salami, bollito misto, and that intoxicating just-baked Tuscan bread that I ritualistically buy from the forno next door.
I can only attribute my procrastination to this feeling of being content and at home in Florence. When I look at my Christmas tree and the view of the Duomo out my window, I feel the magic that has begged me to spend Christmas right here in Florence.
I know that one day I'll just wake up and book a reservation. But it hasn't happened yet. And perhaps I'm a little worried that maybe it should. Because my airline ticket has now expired.
But what about that Hammer Gel, those Powerbars, that cold cream, those vitamins and anti-persperant that I cannot find here? And the soft contact lenses and dental bleach that I want to stock up on? I got nervous last year when my supply started running out, and didn't think I would survive Italy without going back to stock up on those "necessities".
And what about all my "stuff"? The stuff of a lifetime that I whittled down to a mere storage room in San Clemente? The remains of things that were so desperately important to me.
I can't seem to detach myself from Florence! I love the lifestyle here, from my morning vegetable market expedition, to buying buttons at the button store, to buying pens at the pen store, paper at the paper store, salami at the salumeria, chicken at the polleria, and knives at the coltelleria. I have my carpenter, my shoe maker, my macelleria, my lavanderia, my pasticerria, my pizzeria, my fioraio, my farmacia, my gelateria, my mesticheria, my salumeria, all within a pleasant pedal or a short walk from my piazza. I love that I have the opera and 3 theater houses within a 5 minute glorious walk away. I love that all the shops that I frequent are owned and operated by families who have owned them for generations. I'm even beginning to love carrying a serious umbrella and getting to know Florence in the rain.
Stopping into a church for a quick prayer, getting engaged in a conversation with a macellaio trying to convince me that Tuscan soprassata is better than Pugliesi soprassata because it is more fatty and morbido. Standing on 2 different lines for an hour at the post office only to have the both numbers called at the same time. I can live with that...I can even laugh at that. But I don't miss frozen, prepared foods. Above all I do not miss mega superstores like COSTCO. I love being able to buy a pizza at 1 o'clock in the morning and a cappucino as the sun rises, right outside my door. On the other hand, I would like not to have my showerhead sticking off my bathroom wall and would love to find a worthy dentist. Tradeoffs!
I love hanging my laundry out to dry, it makes me feel so loyal to my wash and so proudly domesticated! I like walking up 56 steps in a 500 year old renaissance building into my apartment, the former studio of the aritist Pietro Annigoni.....who has a whole museum devoted to his art. It was here in my apartment that he painted the masterpiece portraits of his career. My home feels like a very special place.
I get a kick out of Franco who will fix the front light on my bike for either a Euro or a kiss. He's got a hell of alot of testosterone for a 70 year old man. And Giuseppe the shoemaker who wants to make love to my feet and Giovanni the florist who won't give up on asking me for a "date" (in my apartment, mind you). Priceless stuff! Now if only one of them were my age, didn't smoke and were relatively healthy !
So my friends, these are a couple of the things that keep me here in Florence. I love my friends and cannot wait to hug my brother, my sisters, Aunt Marion and my nephews. I am sure that one day I will wake up and make that reservation. But for now I cannot imagine leaving Florence.