I’m sitting out on the terrace on a very cloudy Tuesday evening. It rained most of the day today, but stopped late this afternoon. The temperature is great – coolish, but no wind. The clouds are low, masking the highest peaks of the Apennines, which I can see from the terrace. The birds are chirping, so glad to be done with the rain of the day. The church bells remind me of the time and call the faithful to worship. The rain has made everything brilliant, so the Tiber Valley that I look out over is 20 different shades of green. Moments like this are what make my heart so full and my soul joyful.
I’ll admit to being a little stressed since I’ve been here. Work was extremely challenging in the weeks leading up to my departure, so I didn’t get a chance to do a pre-vacation brain dump. I was working furiously to make sure everything was in good shape before I left. More of a beat the clock kind of send-off than a full of anticipation one. On the plane I thought that maybe since I had worked so hard before I left it would make me appreciate it all the more once I planted my feet on Italian soil. I went with that theory. However, it didn’t take me long to realize that while geography does a lot for lowering the stress level, it doesn’t take it away completely. There was an underlying anxiousness that I couldn’t overcome and I hated it and myself for feeling it.
Slowly, surely, that anxiety melts away and I begin to feel the tranquility that always comes to me here. I wanted it immediately – the second I got off the plane. But that’s not the way it works and I don’t think I would fully appreciate it if it come upon me so suddenly.
This trip is a little different because of the house. I had all that to think about, to try and figure out, to manage to get done what I had to do before we leave. If I had months spread out before me maybe it would be different. But with just three weeks it was a little daunting. And it doesn’t help my American sensibilities that everything here happens on Italian time. I have to keep reminding myself that’s one of the things I love about being here. But when I’m trying to accomplish something very specific, I want it done as soon as possible. I don’t want anything to get in the way or to prolong it. I wanted the house all put together and in great shape – and then I wanted to enjoy the rest of my time here.
I hate to waste even one second of my precious time here on worry. It’s like food – there are so many wonderful food opportunities that even one mediocre meal is a huge disappointment. As I sit here and look at this cathedral of a view, listen to the quiet sounds of the village – muted voices calling out in that poetry that is the Italian language, far off tractors climbing a steep hill, birds, and bells – and smell the aromas that are carried on the gentle breeze, I take this moment for what it is. It’s an embrace from an old friend letting me know that when I’m ready the tranquility and peace that it offers is mine. Old friend, I think I’m ready.
This town wraps around me like a soft, thick, terrycloth robe. The kind that you really should get rid of because it’s a little frayed around the edges, but you just can’t part with because it’s the most comfortable, and comforting, thing you own. That’s what I feel like here. Every time I look out over the Tiber Valley I feel a connection with the millions of eyes who have also gazed at this vista. When I see the red tile rooftops of the Renaissance part of town that my terrace overlooks I feel a connection to the people who have found shelter under them for hundreds of years. When I walk the old uneven cobblestone alleys of the ancient part of town I feel a connection to all those who have walked these paths for centuries.
And I can’t help but think how incredibly lucky I am to have found the home of my soul.