Friends have been writing, in the weeks since I returned, telling me how relieved they are that I am Home, and Safe, at last.
Not just one friend but many friends.
And it is nice to be cared about but … if I were given the chance to go back, I would. In a heartbeat.
In a world addicted to safety, to the illusion of security, and happy endings, it seems that the previous 3 years my life have been seen as a failure on every level but honestly, flying across the world … 20,000+ kms, with less than $100nz really was a Grand Adventure.
And never being sure of what was next, since the divorce … I have loved that too.
Sure, I have crumpled sometimes. I would even spend time on my knees but I felt so very alive. And so much stronger when I reached the other side of whatever challenge had been sent my way.
And I learned so much about people. About how kind they can be.
I also felt incredibly fortunate about the position I found myself in. So often, there I was, located somewhere between the craziest worlds, legal but only just … with the most marvelous people doing things like guiding me through the Swiss ER or moving me into their home as an employee … and then allowing me to become an odd little extra part of their family.
In this era of anti-immigration and fear-mongering politicians, I also came to understand I had the extreme privilege of dual nationality, and the freedom to roam, as a New Zealander, and a European. I never ever took it forgranted.
I never stopped whispering quiet ‘thank yous’ to whoever orchestrated this life that I live.
And sure, every now and again, I would get my arse so totally kicked … but I also felt so very alive. While feeling so very grateful.
Think about it for a moment. The story of Alice in Wonderland is a classic, known and loved by so many … and there was I, falling down rabbit holes and going on grand adventures, every single week, sometimes daily.
We live and we die. I love living big and … brave/crazy/passionate/put your own word. And if the price, is being vulnerable too, then that seems kind of okay because the rewards/results made it more than worthwhile.
But now, here I am, in this known world. Slowly I am fitting myself back into the official version of a life.
I had a doctor’s appointment recently, needing a script for the daily medication that I had been given back in Belgium during the final months of my marriage. The medication that was, without questions or script, given to me in Italy. The NZ doctor was horrified by my ability to procure that medication for my blood pressure but more than that, she wanted to run a million terrifying tests on my person.
She was laughing, as I tried to talk my way out of ‘yet more’ bloody blood tests, and kept writing down new tests I could have. I have the paper here. I will go when I am ready … maybe never. Although finding another doctor will be a pain.
Then, of course, I had to replace the glasses I lost back in Florence, Italy. So I had an eye test last week. They were so thorough that I actually developed motion sickness during the Extensive testing. It turns out there’s no sign of diabetes, and my eyes are quite healthy. Just a little short-sighted, long-sighted, and for computers too.
I told the optometrist, had I known how thorough they were, I probably would have opted to continue in my slightly blurred world. I see things there, that no one else sees … it’s like I see fiction sometimes, whole novels :-)
She wanted to give me a pair of graduated glasses, that would deal with all 3 forms of eye issues I seem to have. I struck a deal where she just made a prescription for driving and for those distant boards in airports, the ones that tell you when your plane is departing.
I promised I was fine with my supermarket glasses for reading, and I would simply move my laptop until I could see it.
She laughed at me too.
I actually have an appointment for my ears next month. Some claim I am a little deaf. It seems like a test I can stand … a piece of paper that proves those people wrong.
Re-entering a known world, ticking all those boxes. Driving Dad’s car - Percy Fish, the little red Mazda Demio. Going to movies without subtitles, having every conversation in English. I am living a strange, and suddenly simple, life.
But in good news … tonight I can report, with quite some joy, that I have found an Italian red wine … with a cork, (and not a bloody screwtop cap that is popular here). It’s a Sangiovese Di Toscana by Confini, and it is so good. It is a mouthful of Italy that takes me back there and makes me smile.
My beloved and familiar red wine, the Santa Cristina, is a screwtop in New Zealand, and honestly, it tastes so different. The anima is gone, somehow. I know nothing of the argument, or even if there is one, about screwtop versus corks but I know where I stand. Yes yes, without scientific backing.
So not only am I some kind of messed up princess, missing my perfect espresso, desperately pricing machines that will make my breakfast coffee , but it seems I need red wine with corks, shipped from Italy. And so much more.
I make myself laugh … I promise.
Life is all over the place here. I am meeting new people, creating new routines, walking new routes … I no longer have espresso at breakfast. Red wine is a huge, and quite wicked, occasional gift to myself. The pasta and cheese situation almost makes me cry, …even as I know I should get over it all.
At the RSA, I sit at the table where Dad sits, and the guys there have let me in.
They are ‘Kind’ in that way New Zealand blokes are kind :-) It’s the same in Genova, where mocking is a form of affection … or that’s what I tell myself. And they all tell me it is true. But anyway, believing mocking was a form of affection, is how I was raised, so if it’s not true, don’t tell me.
I am enjoying the evenings Dad and I go to his club for a drink. The bar staff too, they are special. It feels like an extraordinary privelege to be allowed a seat at their table, in their club.
Today, and yesterday too, were long days. Full of so many people and responsibilities but … I can do it, easily. I seem to have been programmed to nurture people, and I am so curious about each and (almost) every soul who crosses my path, that I can make a life any old place.
But please, never talk of my life as something I shouldn’t love. Every day has been a gift. Every bad thing has been something I have learned from. And the good things … they fill me with joy.
The divorces, where I tend to lose everything … they have been lessons in the beauty that emerges out of walking away without bitterness, no matter how badly they end. And the adventures I have had because of those divorces. My life feels so much richer as a result.
I am a woman, so full of stories from living that I feel wealthy …
It was a long day today. It’s been a long week.