Today is the day. After six months of living in Italy, today is the day we make our way back home to Georgia. Notice I said “back home”. I wrote that without thinking. I could have said “back to Georgia”, or just “to Georgia”. But I said “back home”. This is by far, the longest I’ve ever been away from home. Steve, too. And in many ways, I miss it. How can you not miss your home? Miss your family and friends? Miss what’s familiar and comfortable?
Anyone who’s read any portion of this blog will know that we have loved living in Italy. We’ve had 180 days of pure joy. We’ve enjoyed what we’ve discovered, who we’ve met, the food and wine – almost everything about our stay has been wonderful. In a perfect world, we would divide our time between Atlanta and Italy. But, as we all know, the world is not perfect and rarely do we get to do what we want all the time. We have been so incredibly fortunate to have this experience. Sometimes, even after six months, I still can’t believe we really did this.
So many people thought we were just a little crazy for doing this (some probably thought we more than just a little crazy). Heck, even I thought we were crazy there for a while. It seemed so fantastic. For many reasons, it was the right thing for us to do at that particular time. What has happened to us since we’ve done this fantastical thing? Who knows? I know the experiences we’ve had and memories we’ve made and all those primary, sensory things. What I don’t know is if we’ve changed in subtle ways that even we don’t realize.
The one thing I was seeking was sprezzatura, the name of this blog. It means “studied nonchalance”, or making things look effortless and easy. I understood this to mean losing the fear of what others think of you, so that your confidence shows through and even if you don’t know what you’re doing, it doesn’t look like it. Now I’ve mingled this with “tranquillo” that wonderful word that means just take it easy. It will all work out. The two go naturally hand in hand, I think. I think I’m a long way from either of them, but as long as I keep them in mind, maybe it will make a difference over time.
One of the unexpected things that happened while we were here is the beginning of the Holy Year declared by the Pope back in December, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It’s the year of mercy and for some reason it had a profound impact on me. Mercy and forgiveness – simple, but at the same time extremely complicated. One thing I do know – I don’t want to live for even one day harboring ill feelings toward anyone. Disagreements are part of life and happen any time when there is more than one person is present. Unless something immoral or illegal is at stake, what can’t be forgiven? Hurt feelings? Please – get over it and become “tranquillo”. Show a little sprezzatura. Have a little mercy.
Maybe I didn’t do this crazy thing to realize any change in my life. Maybe I just did it because I wanted to and was able to. Maybe I’ll regret it one day. Who knows? Sometimes I think we tend to over-analyze things and look for deep meaning when, in fact, there is none. Sometimes things are just very simple. I also think that whatever change I underwent in Italy, if any, will manifest itself slowly over time after I return. I don’t have a clear feeling that this experience changed me in any particular way or that I learned something profound from it. I enjoyed the heck out of it, and I would like to think that stands for something in life. Anyway, the experiences I had in Italy are part of me now and inform my way of thinking. I hope it’s for the better.
So now I’m on my way back home to Georgia. In some ways we’re starting a new life there. We’re in a new house and a new neighborhood. There will be adjustments. Things won’t be exactly the same. And that’s good. We all need a little change in our lives from time to time to keep us thinking. This will be a time I’ll never forget and when I’m old and gray(er), I hope I sit around and bore my grandchildren (and maybe great-grandchildren) about the time I spent in Italy. I hope I remember it as one of the highlights of my life. And I hope they smile every time they hear about it because they know it made me happy. But for now, the road leads back to Georgia.