Falling in Love with the Light ...

Of all the things I wondered about on this land, I wondered the hardest about the seduction of certain geographies that feel like home - not by story or blood but merely by their forms and colours.  How our perceptions are our only internal map of the world, how there are places that claim you and places that warn you.  How you can fall in love with the light.

Ellen Melloy, Writer

Note, the photograph was taken on one of the Princes' Islands out in the Marmara Sea, Istanbul.

Those Landscapes ...

When I went home, back in 2012, one of the places I had to revisit was the river in the photograph below.

It was the scene of much childhood joy.  It was my river.  I loved the smell of it as it flowed out of the valley and onto the plains.   I loved the scent the stones would throw up from under our wet and wriggly bodies as we baked ourselves on top of them, teeth chattering, after being ordered out of the river to warm ourselves a while.  I loved picnics there ... warm Greggs cordial in big glass beer bottles, and egg sandwiches and cakes Mum had baked.   And I loved the way my hair would smell, full of river water, on the way home.

Later, when body consciousness forced me out of the river and those idyllic childhood days, I returned with my dog.  She seemed to share my passion for the river.  I would skim stones for her from the shore.

Fast-forward decades and everyone warned me, when I went home ... things will have changed.  You will have idealised it.  So I was cautious with my expectations, knowing that the landscapes I had loved might seem different, now I was older, more traveled.

But no ... those old landscapes, they rose up in front of me and kissed me full on the mouth.  A bear hug, or more, and this deep feeling of joy over simple things like bird song and the scent of bush in the rain at Tautuku. 

Nothing had changed.   All of the big passionate love I had felt was still there.   Those 'scapes allowed me to slip back in and love them like always.  No recriminations about leaving. 

Well, maybe .... just a few sly questions like, have you found anywhere better?  Name one place where the air smells like this ...  

Did you miss us?

Home ...

You know, if the truth were known I have a perfect passion for the island where I was born. Well, in the early morning there I always remember feeling that this little island has dipped back into the dark blue sea during the night only to rise again at gleam of day, all hung with bright spangles and glittering drops . . . I tried to catch that moment . . . I tried to lift that mist from my people and let them be seen and then to hide them again.

Katherine Mansfield, Writer.

I am returning to Genova in July and already my head has begun to fill with what I would like to achieve while there this time.  That city brings me alive in a way that no other place has so far.  Perhaps Istanbul came close but Genova has everything ... in just the right proportions. It is imperfectly perfect for me.

Genova, once known as La Superba, is an ancient Italian city (at least 2,000 years in the making), nestled in the arms of hills that are topped by ancient fortresses.  And at the feet of the city you have Ligurian Sea. 

The first time I saw that sea tears filled my eyes.  It had been a long time since I had been anyplace where the sea looked like home.  I was out at Nervi, photographing a Genovese family, and suddenly I was overcome by this strange sense of being back in a place that was completely familiar.

I have been thinking about things and have this idea that if you ever leave the country you were born in and move someplace else, far away, then eventually the idea of returning home can become as strange or as foreign as living in another country.

And so you move countries and become 'the other', living amongst people who are 'the other' to you.  But when you go home you realise you have become something else there as well. 

And so my place on the edge of lives and cultures is confirmed, probably for life.   That said, there is something else that happens out here.  I love people.  I love when they invite me into their worlds.  In Istanbul there were Turkish families I adored because they took care of me when I lived alone in their city.  That experience of being a guest, of being invited inside, to be a part of this celebration or that, here in Belgium, in Berlin during those months spent living and working there.  Cairo.  Naples.  France. Italy.   It's those insider journeys that make this lifestyle of mine so very very worthwhile. 

Lately I've been reading a series of biographies and fictions about New Zealand author, Katherine Mansfield ... searching for clues I think.  Something about her story speaks to me.

She left NZ in 1908 aged 20.  By 1923, she was dead from TB but not before she had revolutionised the 20th Century English short story.  She was a part of the English literary scene at the time and yet very much the colonial from the Antipodes. 

Her masterpieces—the long stories ‘At the Bay’ and ‘Prelude’—are lovingly detailed recreations of a New Zealand childhood, reports from the fringe—the edge of the world as she felt it to be. She wrote as if she’d stayed. Of course these luminous re-imaginings are lit with the affection and nostalgia of the expatriate. They would not exist without their author’s estrangement from the scenes and places and people she describes. They are set in a New Zealand of the mind, composed at the edge of Mansfield’s memory.

Source: NZ Edge.com

I'm curious about her because I relate to her on so many levels.  I feel like reading her story might tell me more about mine.  I yearn for home.  Adore it, am passionate about it and yet ... could I go back and live there again?  I really don't know anymore

Ahhh but all of this when really I came to post a photograph I took at the antiques market in Genova, back in May.

Leonie Wise, Where the Road Ends

we wonder if there is a place here for us,
if we will tell our stories to island visitors some years down the line,
this island gets under our skin, into our blood
little remnants of it coming home in our memories

Leonie Wise, extract from where the road ends.

Beautiful people, beautiful photographs, beautiful words.

Here is just one of Leonie's exquisite  images from that particular post.

She has opened a conversation for me ...  we wonder if there is a place here for us.

I know that curiousity.  I have been looking for 'home' since forever.  I'll know it when I find it and in the meanwhile I'll enjoy where I am, like always.  I've spent the last 30 years moving towns, moving countries. 

Perhaps it will always be like this for me but perhaps one day I'll arrive ... and somehow I'll know that I'm home.

Manuka Flower, New Zealand

When I lived in New Zealand I used to love getting up with the sun sometimes, wandering a while with my dog and my camera.  Last year, those days spent at Cooks Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula, were painfully exquisite.

It was something else to return with eyes hungry for home.  I saw ordinary everyday plants like the flax bush or the manuka flower in an entirely different way.  It was as if I was celebrating the familiar and elevating it to the point of extraordinary by virtue of not having experienced 'everyday and familiar' for 8 years or more.

I needed longer, more time to soak up the beauty I saw there. 


The desire to go home, that is, a desire to be whole, to know where you are, to be the point of intersection of all the lines drawn through all the stars, to be the constellation-maker and the center of the world, that center called love. To awaken from sleep, to rest from awakening, to tame the animal, to let the soul go wild, to shelter in darkness and blaze with light, to cease to speak and be perfectly understood.

Rebecca Solnit

A Remarkable Woman

Whether we know it, or not, we are all remarkable souls.  Individuals with stories, tapestries of individual beauty. 

Over the years I've realised that each individual carries so many stories inside.

I started moving house when I was 21 and newly married.  Over the years of the first marriage we moved at least 12 times.  And I remember watching and wondering, as we drove by old homes on the road between wherever we were living and 'home', about the people who might have been forever inhabitants in those houses ... wondering what their stories felt like.

I see people as beautiful stories, like books with their own individual covers, and I enjoy the privilege of 'reading' a little when we work on a portrait shoot or simply spend time together.  Some try to tell me that their lives are so ordinary but lives are never ordinary.  It's as fascinating to listen to someone who has lived their entire life in one place as it is to listen to a person who has traveled.

Like wine, we all have our own flavour, our own ageing-process ... depth, maturity, character are all words that can be applied as much to humans as to wine.

Back in Genova, I spent two days with Diny and it was an incredible pleasure.  The tapestry of her life was beautifully woven.  I can imagine her laughing as she reads this but it's less about perfection and more about the deep beauty of being real and present. Of being honest.  Of embracing life in a way that left me admiring her intensely.

And she gave me permission to post one of the photographs I took of her while we worked. 



I used to live here ...

Back home, I discovered Broad Bay, Dunedin and I lived in 3 houses in that small bay before flying to Istanbul ...

The first (numbered 1 on the image below) was where I escaped to after my first marriage ended, and it was perfect for a while.  Then the house just above me ... on the hill you see there with the number 2 on it ... came up for rent and it was more sensible, less quirky but still wooden, with a verandah and a view of the harbour.

I loved living in Broad Bay.  I had a sea kayak, a car, and a golden labrador.  And just enough money for secondhand books and the occasional bottle of red. 

I hunted those old houses down and photographed them while I was home in New Zealand at Christmas.


'Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more'.

We're just in from a weekend spent in Wallonia, where the temperature dropped to below zero celsius and snow fell.  And we gathered around a huge fire in a big old house and spent our time talking with good friends.

Actually, my heart has been warmed as friends have welcomed us back to Belgium after weeks spent wandering in that New Zealand summer.

Wednesday found me out with Jurjana, my truly delicious Croatian friend here in Antwerp.  She drove me to her favourite restaurant and we enjoyed a lovely lunch and catch-up session at Patrasche, in Hoboken

Thursday and Stephanie, an English friend, came over for dinner with her daughter.  Another few hours spent talking and listening.

Friday and it was Lucy, Fiona, and Ruth.  My lovely Irish and Belgian friends.  We began as an informal Nederlands class but they have become such good friends that there was something of a 'coming home' feeling as I arrived at Fiona's house.  Actually, we don't really speak in Nederlands anymore .... but, by crikey, we always have a most excellent time when we get together.

And this weekend was the icing on the cake.  We wandered over to the New Zealand/Belgian/American household, over there on the other side of Belgium, and the snow fell and our wandering souls were surely warmed.

We're back in Belgium where its winter.

Home ... ?

I woke from an anguished dream about working as a wedding photographer for a friend and experiencing complete and utter gear failure.  My camera batteries ran out, the flash wasn't attached  correctly, I had no memory card ... it was a horror of a nightmare and I woke in a terrible panic that I had missed everything important of the wedding.

I briefly caught up with family and friends in Belgium via Skype then ran out the door to the Botannical Gardens here in Dunedin.  I was meeting with Nikki's exceptionally lovely family for a quick photography session.  She's a much-loved friend of my sister's and so I knew it was going to be a pleasure to take some photographs, just for fun.

But this morning I realised that for all the lightness and joy in my posts about coming home there is the growing awareness that it's almost time to leave this country I love. Driving familiar city streets this morning left me wondering what it is that I want from my life ... maybe the weight of the nightmare was still there in my mind because it seemed like a heavy thought on such a beautiful morning.

You see I have devoured the air as we have wandered the South Island, overjoyed to be smelling the yellow lupin and the cabbage tree flowers, sniffing out and identifying the wet stone-scent of Fiordland, the intense forest-bouquet on the West Coast.

I have loved the food, I have loved the people, I am loving summer in this place that I know so exceptionally well.  And is that the lure ... the seduction? The familiarity, after 10 years away from all that is known to me.

Driving the city streets today, I was wondering if Icould return to New Zealand ... the little island-continent out here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean at the bottom of the world? 

I think I need to go back to Europe now, revisit Genova because it gives me so much of what I require, check out Antwerp because I have this Belgian bloke who loves that city, maybe visit Paris on a day-trip once we recover financially ... just to explore what I need.  And to try to understand what I would do if there were choices ... you know?

Meanwhile, my beautiful Katie-niece sat next to me as I sat here writing and downloading today's photoshoot.  She photographed me at work ...  so there you have it, a real-time photograph of the Di Creature.

Christine and Peter ...

Way back when ... when my first husband joined the New Zealand airforce, he was recruited by Peter Kirker.  And Peter, being the kind-hearted soul that he is, told his wife that this new recruit had a wife and she might need some support as her 30 year old husband disappeared into 6 months of basic and officer training.

And that was where our friendship began ... so many years ago, it played out on Base Woodbourne in Marlborough and we've stayed in touch over the years.

So when they heard we were coming home, they suggested we arrive in Auckland so that they could introduce Gert to the North Island of New Zealand ... a territory that has remained relatively unknown to me.  I'm a South Island girl and was always so completely in love with the other island that I never did get round to the roadtrip 'up north' before leaving home.

Since arriving on Monday, we have been introduced to Auckland, wandered in Rotoroa, slept at Taupo, eaten enough exquisite food to make me wonder why it was that I left and, last night,  we have arrived in Wellington.  

We have laughed often as we've wandered with this lovely couple, talked endlessly, been taken care of like we were special and we have had a most marvellous time.

Returning has felt something like someone opening up their red wine cellar up to us, and bringing out all their treasures, inviting us to taste each one and, rather than getting drunk, we find ourselves filled up with the goodness that is a return to New Zealand. 

I'm really struggling to focus down in on each individual story ... the people, the places, the sights seen.  The stories, the 'incidents' (mmmmm, there may have been some incidents),  and the details of this return home after 8 years away.

Last night I was talking to my dad and my sister, anticipating arriving in their world at the weekend.  And exchanging mails with Giovanni and Inge, lovely friends made via the internet ... people I'll be seeing while here in Wellington.  There are people to visit with all over this country of mine and I love that.

This morning, 5am (the new normal), and the dawn chorus exploded into the room.  I love it.  I have missed so much about 'home', deep inside of myself, in that place where these kinds of memories hide themselves. 

Anyway, enough of the deluge of words ... I photographed our lovely friends while they were showing Gert a Fantail on one of the pathways in Rotorua.  Meet Christine and Peter Kirker, people I am so honoured to have as friends.





Going Home ... and Missy Higgins.

I found the music of Missy Higgins today, just after finding an old favourite of mine ... Paul Kelly's song, Midnight Rain, via youtube.  I've been searching for it online for years.

He sang with Missy and, curious, I went wandering through her world and found Everyone's Waiting ...see the clip below.

And I watched it and remembered swimming in New Zealand's oceans.  I remembered how good it felt to walk my dogs on the beaches.  I remembered startling one of my favourite dogs out on Long Beach, in Dunedin, when I ran into the surf with her ... fully clothed, one day when I just needed to swim.

Then I hit replay and listened while I wrote to a friend.  Not seeing the flim clip, I heard the familar roar of the surf, the crackle and slosh of the sea ... and something clicked, in my soul perhaps.

And I cracked open a spare moleskin notebook I had here. 

I wrote New Zealand there on its front page, and started a list.

- find a copy of the movie 'In My Father's Den'.

- swim in the sea

- stand and walk in the surf, (photograph that to bring back to Europe when I leave).

And finally, so long after booking the tickets, I let my mind sift through the possibilities ... sunrises with coffee, outside, someplace beautiful.

Seeing my nieces, the Georgia and Katie creatures, who were 8 years younger when I left and now, well ... they're both teenagers. 

And my much-loved favourite sister, Sandra, and my dad ... and one of my brothers, Steve, will be over from Australia.

There might be sunsets and wine, and long conversations ... with friends, like Dave and Jude, Christine and Peter, Fiona and Barry and others ...  but I talk of them here.

Anyway, I'll be letting this song of Missy's take me home in the meanwhile ... and maybe I'll play up loud as we wander New Zealand ... letting Home sink back into my bones and fill me again.

More That Makes Me Happy...

Kathleen put out the challenge and here I am, still blogging those things that make me happy ...

This is our dining room/lounge area - taken a few moments ago.  There's a lot of happy here.

I love the colours Gert painted it, partially inspired by Monet's kitchen in France.  We loved the yellow there.  Then you can see Amedeo's painting resting between my two photographs taken in Istanbul.  I adore that painting because it was gift from Amedeo, because he's hugely talented and because he painted me a photography shop there in the city of Genova.

Most of the furniture you see in the photograph is secondhand.  Gert and I are divorce orphans.  Our divorces pretty much took everything we had accrued over our 12 and 14 years of marriage and voila, later, when we met each other, we had to begin again.   

Children, stay married, or get pre-nups because divorce can be a vicious beast if you end up on the wrong side.

Anyway, I love the oak table pictured, found for 70 euro at our favourite secondhand shop here in the city.  I introduced Gert to secondhand treasures and he quickly succumbed to its curious charm.  The chairs were 65 euro for the lot and the red couch in the background ... it was something very reasonable that I fell for too, writes this woman who is easily made happy with treasure found secondhand.

Oh! And, there on the big wooden cabinet, are flowers by Dieter.  We really like Dieter because he's a lovely man and makes the best flowers arrangements.  I changed this one a little because I was rushing but, truly, his arrangements are beautiful artworks.


That Desire for Home ...

The desire to go home is a desire to be whole, to know where you are, to be the point of intersection of all the lines drawn through all the stars, to be the constellation-maker and the center of the world, that center called love. To awaken from sleep, to rest from awakening, to tame the animal, to let the soul go wild, to shelter in darkness and blaze with light, to cease to speak and be perfectly understood.

Rebecca Solnit.

I used to sit there, near the top of the hill, at the edge.  Located on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand, it was a great place to sit and dream about the world ... 6,000kms away from my east coast they told me.

I'm beginning to believe that I'm finally going home ... after 8 years away.  I never imagined, not even for a second, that I would ever spend longer than a year away from this landscape that owns my soul.

But I've looked around while I've been gone ... fallen for Genova, loved Istanbul, live in Flanders, wandered in Cairo and Paris and Amsterdam, Barcelona and Salamanca, Madrid too.  Adored and was awed by Rome, smiled in Naples, survived Berlin.  Enjoyed Ireland and England, France.

But going home ... it's as the quote says, I suspect. 


Flowers are always the way to arrive ...

I didn't realise how much I love a bunch of flowers in a new place ... not just in Genova but in anyplace new.  They are surely a way to arrive ... a way to feel 'at home'.

The Sweetpeas have been abundant in the garden herein Wallonia.  They remind me of my childhood back home in Mosgiel.  My mum loved them.

We were up early out here in the country this morning, a pavlova made from freshly-laid eggs went into the oven straight after breakfast.  Gert whipped up a batch of his sultana and frangipani bread ...  Welcome home gifts for the family who gave us their beautiful house for a couple of weeks. 

Now to clean and leave for 't stad.  Meanwhile, my beautiful flowers ...

The word home comes from a root meaning 'the place where one lies'.  The phrase refers to our physical place of residence and rest, our bed, but it also prompts me to consider where the core of the 'one' that is me - who I am, my soul - lies.

Lisa McKay, from Love at the Speed of Sound.

I found this today, over on Marianne Elliott's blog and, as always when it comes to questions of 'home, I paused to consider my sense of the word.

But then I wandered off outside, before the storm, and photographed the sweetpeas ... a favourite flower of mine, back in the days of my childhood because I have lived in so many homes, in so many places, since those stable days of a life lived in Mosgiel.

The New Year ...

I always get sad during the holiday break here in the northern hemisphere. 

I always miss home and family, more than at any other time of the year. 

So January is a bit of a climb out of the dark of a Belgian winter and, clearly, my blogging voice falters too.

I miss the road home (as per the photograph), the big messy familar family Christmas, and summer.

I miss the quiet joy of walking long beaches with my dog, good air, and crazy-friendly people.

Eight years is simply too long to stay away but I rarely understand it like that.  Just as I collapse distance with my favourite telefoto lens, I also collapse or compress the passing of time. 

But the 'telefoto' collapse doesn't work over the big holiday break ... not at all. 

2012 has to be the year I go home.  But meanwhile, all the very best things to you and yours in this new year.

'Back', a little more everyday.

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.
Sylvia Plath

Friday was the longgggg day of travel.  I do it the most difficult way and almost destroyed my shoulder this time.

I caught a taxi to the train station because the possibility of me experiencing a Mr Bean-like incident is high.  Once, while rushing to Genova’s Brignole Station through the rain, I slipped and bent my knee in a way I hadn’t bent it in a long time.  Lying on the ground, pre-pain, I remember considering the possibility of hospital and not having to leave the city I loved however, a lovely man helped me up and I realised that the bone-crushing bend had actually freed my rather stiff knee up.  Bizarre but true. 

My train platform lacked both elevator and escalator access.  I looked at my bags ... one 23kg suitcase, one 7kg+ equipment bag, and considered weeping.  Needs must, and so I picked them up and began the climb.  There was a beautiful young man at the top of the stairs, watching me, resplendent in his Milan clothes.  I reached the top, looked at him, and said OHMYGOD! and laughed because what else can you do when you’re not sure you can survive that kind of ‘lift and climb’ scenario.  I wandered off to a spot in the sun to see what was going to happen.  It seemed I was to survive but for the odd achey muscley bits.

Then it was almost 2 hours on the train to Milan, first class ... because it was just 6 euro more, and so worth it.  And almost another hour on the train to the airport and yes, that was me, 2 hours early for the earliest check-in.  I still have a mild cough thing going and I was so tired, I just wanted to make sure I got home…

So they sent me away with my suitcase, my much-hated suitcase by that point in time, and I found a quiet spot where I could buy some pasta and tomato, and drink a glass of red wine.  My usb modem was still working and so I worked a while but, really, I just wanted to get rid of the suitcase, buy a book, and get through security.

Evening, on the plane and I bought one of those tiny bottles of airplane Merlot, twitching my nose a little over the fact it wasn’t the Chianti I had come to love. 
It was really bad.  I sipped but couldn’t drink it.  The air hostess noticed I hadn’t finished it when I returned it to her and offered to pop up the front and replace it with something nicer.  And she did!  I’m still smiling over that.

Home, suitcase battered but ahah! I had encased it in plastic wrap to avoid the usual suitcase breakage I experience on reaching Brussels.  Well ... I got it home only to discover that they had had their dastardly way with it and that the lock was broken and had jammed closed.  Dank u wel, Brussels airport.  Another suitcase story to add to the growing collection titled ‘Horrible Things That Have Happened to My Suitcase at Brussels Airport’.  This was its final journey.  God only knows what I’ll replace it with, probably titanium or some other unbreakable material.

On the bright side my suitcase on one of the first off the conveyor belt.  I looked at the time, I had about 6 minutes to reach the hourly bus to Antwerpen. I sprinted through the ‘anythingtodeclare’ section thinking that perhaps that wasn’t the best look when toting a plastic encased suitcase.  I ran, jogged, walked briskly and arrived, a dishevelled panting heap with about 2 minutes to spare.  The driver told me to calm down, that he’d wait, and he laughed. 

Gert met me in the city and, he too, experienced a small destruction to his body on taking my suitcase the rest of the way home and voila, I was home by 10.30pm ... to the most delicious guests.  Ashley, last seen when she was 10 and I was living in New Zealand, daughter of one my favourite friends in the world, was staying over with her lovely Australian friend Beck.  Our place had been their Belgian base for 2 weeks.  It was good to catch up on the years that had passed ...  although how lucid I was is debatable. 

I slept.

The next day, Paola, Simon and Matteo arrived, fleeing their home renvoations, and the quiet party kicked off.  It was more of a talking and eating and lounging around time together.  Persian chicken for dinner, with Paola’s delicious Limoncello Tiramisu for dessert ... and red wine.  We were trying to find a Chianti replacement for the Banfi I came to love in Genova.

Well, that’s what I was doing.  Maybe the others weren’t quite so interested in that particular search and, in fact, Gert had a Belgian beer.

Sunday came, Paola and Simon left after lunch.  Beck’s and Ashley started packing ... Beck was heading for Spain on the 5am airport bus, and Ashley’s flies out of Paris tonight, heading for New Zealand.  Jessie and little Miss 7 arrived and I did an impromptu photo shoot of the girls.  Dinner ... what was dinner?  Oh yes, it was the one where we introduced the girls to rabbit cooked the Belgian way ... in tons of beer, with sultanas and all kinds of yummy things.  They weren’t quite convinced despite me promising we were only eating the naughtiest rabbits.  Beck finally decided it would have been better not to know which creature we were consuming. (Note: that didn’t work with Jessie.  I may have led her to believe she was eating chicken once ... when it was rabbit.  I wouldn’t do that again.  She was veryvery cross with me.)

We heard the taxi leave this morning for the airport bus stop around 4.30am.  I went with Ashley to the train later.  I’m home now.  Sunshine on my back, an empty house.  Good music playing. 

So I’m back from Italy and now ... to work on that book.

Reminiscing the Future ...

I love the way we can bring the past alive in our present ... recalling the people we loved and lived with, the way that they made us feel.  I find everyone is still there, solid memories, whenever I manage to call them up.

7am here in Italy, a cup of coffee from my travel coffee-pot and a packet of Italian shortbread-like biscuits ...voila, I find memories of Nana and pre-breakfast coffees back home at her place, in Invercargill, New Zealand.  Us chatting as she sped through her daily Southland Times, reading the news.

If we could have imagined the future ... ‘Hey Nana, in 2010 I’m going to be sitting at Paola’s kitchen table, in a small and ancient city in Italy, window open so I can hear the sounds of the city waking, drinking coffee, just like you and I are now.’

Nana, who never left New Zealand in all of her life.  I wonder if she dreamed of it.  We never talked of those things.

Or a conversation with Mum ... ‘So I moved to Istanbul in 2003.  You would have loved it!  The people are so friendly, the summers are warmer than here in Mosgiel, the life ... Come with me?

Then Belgium in 2005 and mum would have flown in.  Creating a garden on that first balcony in Antwerp.  And then she would have spent evenings out there, ignoring the mosquitoes, drinking white wine and watching as the sun slipped below the horizon. 

Genova.  I’m sure she would have refused to leave Genova.  We would have laughed about me being my mother’s daughter perhaps, with a need for the sea and serious hills, and maybe we could have planned opening some kind of B&B here, satisfying our oddly hospitable souls and the pleasure we find in knowing people.

And my lovely little sister ... the one who has always been older and wiser, even if she was born after me.  We used to talk across the space between our single beds, back in those days when we shared a room.  If we had imagined my future  life we would have been guilty of inventing wild and untrue tales ... ones where Istanbul, Antwerp and Genova were flights of fanciful imaginations.  Impossible dreams.

She needs to come here now.  I need her in my life.

But Genova ...!

Did you know that swallows fly up and down Via Lorenzo, screeching like hysterically happy young girls playing chase at an out-of-control birthday party.  They amuse me, those swallows, even as I realise I can't begin to caputre their antics with my camera.

And do you know how it sounds to wake to the sounds of a cafe directly below your bedroom window?  The clatter of cups and saucers and everyday Italian conversations that fly in through my window.  The one that is open behind still-closed green shutters, just across the room.

Did you know that this woman, a few thousand miles from home, from past lives, from the people she first loved, finds this Ligiurian city an exquisitely beautiful place to remember and miss them?

Church bells ring in through the open window ... 8am.
Time to begin the new day but Sandra ... come over one day soon.

Ciao from Genova, both feet in the present, as I think what to do with this day.