Back to Puglia after a month long respite in the U.S. The break was great……needed I’d say. I toured New England and New York in my little black Toyota that sat piled under snow last winter in my father’s Boston driveway. It wasn’t so much a whirlwind but a series of rock solid visits and a few exciting business meetings thrown in. With the exception of one earthquake and one hurricane it all went off without a hitch as I visited with friends and family and had those deep, comfortable conversations about the twists and turns of life with all the people that know me best. These are the conversations I’d been missing and I found an extreme amount of familiarity and groundedness in these moments. It hasn’t been easy but it seems we are collectively breaking through to our dreams and finding out who we really are. Launching businesses, writing books, having babies via surrogate moms , getting sober, getting married, coming out, building houses with FEMA funds, divorces, dissertations, downsizing, it seems my people are doing it all…. It’s complicated man, but we’re doing it.
I don’t know if I feel more or less Italian or more or less American that when I left for the States in early August. I suppose I’m still feeling like I float somewhere in the middle. I do know that when I tell people I meet that I live in Italy, I like the way it feels. I do know that I am appalled at an $8 breakfast (coffee and scone) and that the locally made burrata I used to think was quite good, does not even come close. I know that I missed hanging my laundry to the sound of church bells, I know that the lifestyle that I live here in Puglia costs a hell of a lot more in the United States and I know that the rhythm of life here suits me more than the lack of rhythm in the U.S. I noticed that my driving habits have changed a bit (for the worse, which is pretty bad coming from a Bostonian), I noticed that my definition of a line has shifted mean a haphazard jumble of people hoping to be the next one served. And I noticed that as soon as I was back in America, I wanted to buy “stuff” that I hadn’t even given a thought to in the last year.
Italians are known for their spontaneity and I have always marveled at their ability to handle a situation gone awry on the spot with the right amount of grace and light heartedness. As it turns out, this these traits are rubbing off on me. Traditionally overly obsessed with plans, keeping to them, and doing things the right way, without so much realizing it, I think these last 10 months have taught me to let that go. Things in the end work out and I am learning to trust in this.
And so I am back, but I am not home here yet, not quite. Upon my return I have entered phase 2. I am not exactly sure of all the details but it certainly will contain elements of digging a little deeper. A second chapter of a longer story in which the mundane things of living in Italy will come to the forefront. Car ownership, citizenship, health insurance, home decorating, some kind of a language break through, as well as sorting out the details that make living in two countries a reality and a possibility. Storage units, frequent flyer miles, seasonal car insurance. It’s a lot to sort out but this has always been my intention, so onwards. But phase 2 will also be about sinking in a bit further and really finding a home and a community in Puglia. Professionally speaking phase 2 involves bringing some exciting new programming to the table and continuing to build a cultural bridge between Puglia and the parts of the U.S that I feel most connected to. As they are teaching me everyday, these two places have so much to learn from each other.