Monday, October 25, 2010

Home, Sweet Home

Through this experience I started to wonder about the meaning of “home”. What does it really mean? Is it something inside of each of us that we carry to each new place, like those posters that say “Home is where the heart is?“ Is it a place of familiar sounds and tastes and experiences that calm the mind, and the knowledge that those things will be there for you at the end of a busy day? Is it the people around you who make a home? People who love you and understand not just your language but also the things that you find important? Maybe some of you have the answer, I only have more questions at this point.

Now, here in Italy with my love, we are making a new home for ourselves. This apartment is new to both of us…what a great way to start! Neither of us feels territorial about closet space and there is no question whose chairs to we keep and whose do we throw because none of it belongs to us. We have clothes and books and he has sooo much wine. He has a few kitchen things but not enough to make a whole kitchen.
Our apartment has the basics; bedroom, living room, kitchen and bathroom. It has been fun learning my new home. The front door is solid, but it isn’t a standard American door with a knob. There’s a box mounted on the inside of the door with a button on it. I spent a little while trying to get out, because you don’t push the button, you slide it. And the deadbolt has five pins on the box and a rod that sinks into the floor. I feel that I am as safe as I would be in a bank vault with this door.

The first night I spent alone in the apartment I discovered (at 10:30 pm) that the toilet wouldn’t stop running and the tank and shutoff valve are mounted 9 feet off the floor. I had 2 choices: I could stand on the bar stool whose top is a puffy mound of naugahyde about 10” in diameter or stand there and cry. I have emergency phone numbers, but no phone…and was this an emergency if no water was leaving the bowl? So I scrambled up the stool and teetered on the top…I could just reach the shut off if I balanced on my toes…and then it quit running. I no longer sweat every time I flush, but I do say a little prayer each time, just in case.

Our water heater is mounted in a kitchen cabinet. Do you know the sound effect you hear in movies and TV when something spontaneously combusts?? I think they recorded our water heater when is comes on…mmmm phuwump! You do get used to it, but the first couple of nights I had dreams about fires…wonder why?

I like this apartment. The ceilings are high, the refrigerator is new, the bathtub is clean and big and oh so lovely, The kitchen has a loveseat and a balcony. It’s a little sparse but with time and patience it will be a warm home for us to be in. I have slowly been adding little things here and there as I find them. Towels, sheets, dishes, cleaning supplies. Every day I find something to arrange or clean or move, and in doing this I am finding the way to make this a place to call home. Oh, just be careful when you move things, every time I do I find out why it was placed there to begin with…like the blue paint on the floor in the living room that was covered by the bar…

Monday, October 18, 2010

I have arrived...

Hello friends, welcome to the blog you all asked for. It feels weird to write about myself and my experiences, but I understand that this connection to each other will keep us closer than any other method available to us. I have listened to your suggestions for content and promise to try and include my own unique perspective (a friend’s word, not mine) and I will only tell you what I had for breakfast if it is indeed worth writing about.

Some of you are looking for a peek into what it is like to pick up in the middle of life and move to another country. You probably want to hear about the food, the wine, the art and architecture and the culture. I’m pretty sure you also want to know how I handle living here…what’s different, what’s the same, and how I manage the day to day problems of life. I can’t promise to share everything I think and feel, and you should probably be grateful…the reality is certain to be less exciting than the fantasy.

Some of you want to hear about the romance that is sure to unfold as my love and I get to know each other better. I’ll share what I can…the rest is up to your imagination. Which, knowing some of you, is very fertile ground! What will be different is that here in Italy I am experiencing love without a lot of outside influence. I can love with abandon and passion.

I have been in Florence almost two weeks now. Each day I wake up, take out my map of Florence and try to decide where to go for the day. Some days I go to the historic part of town, mingle with the tourists and window shop. Other days I stick to my neighborhood and the surrounding areas. Those are the days I spend trying to find my way around the places tourists don’t go. The shops, the parks and the residential neighborhoods. Just this week I found a lovely park that feels like being out in the countryside with a wonderful winding path that climbs up a small foothill. The people who go to this park make me feel like part of the neighborhood. They say “buon giorno” and really smile at me. I almost cried the first time I went there, it was such a comforting experience after so much time feeling like a stranger in a strange place. I think that I will visit this park regularly. I will admit that part of the reason I have been walking so much is that I have been very lonely. Far better to spend 8 hours walking outside than sit in the apartment hiding from the experience out of fear

So I can hear the question…what about the guy? He’s here too, but his job as a tour guide has kept him out of town for most of the two weeks that I have been here. But when he is here he is the essence of loving care. Those who know me well will understand the importance of this: He keeps me close without smothering me. He holds my hand, puts his arm around me, he holds me close to him whenever possible. Yeah... He is anxious to introduce me to his friends, who by the way all seem to know that I was coming. He has been talking about this for a bit I think. Soon November will be here and the tourist season is essentially over. He will not be as busy and I expect that there will be many weeks spent getting to know each other better as he shows me around Tuscany.

I know this was long, but I had to catch us all up on what has happened. I promise to keep it short if you promise to be patient as I get comfortable writing all these things down. It has been an interesting couple of weeks…I can hardly wait for tomorrow!