My first thought on writing this post has been about what language to use. How can I better reflect on my last trip to Italy? What language can better express what I feel? And ultimately, which is the language I feel more comfortable with when I think of “home”? But where is “home”? One of the most cliche question us expat get asked and one that, admittedly, I never really bothered to find an answer to. When I get asked I am usually vague, not because I am uncomfortable with the question, but because the meaning of “home” has been quite elusive and I have, possibly, avoided dwelling too much on it. I am a firm believer that we should be in the present, in space and time and I guess is because of this belief that I have lately started to feel that “home” is, simply, where I am. It does sound kind of lonely and sad. What happens to “home is where the heart is”? Where do family and friends come into this very self centred view? I am blessed with a beautiful family and some very special friends but most of them have never lived where I live. Although when I left Vallecrosia I left family and friends behind, I could not wait to run away and for years I struggled with my life in Melbourne, even after my daughters were born. Neither places felt like home, no matter how many people I loved lived there. How are things different this time? Or has this feeling of belonging and content being developing for a while? How could I have had such a blissful time in Vallecrosia and still be absolutely comfortable coming back to Melbourne? In Vallecrosia not only can everyone spell my surname but they know it before I even say it! I can go to the post office and stand in line for an hour to get one stamp. In that time I hear a very personal story about the horrible man behind the counter, I make a new friend and find myself involved in a group discussion about the economic crisis. Unfortunately the queue doesn’t really move forward and I leave without the stamp, feeling nevertheless very satisfied about my morning! On my way to the market I can bump into at least five relatives and a few family friends, they all tell me I haven’t changed a bit. I am totally confident they are telling the truth as they have known me all my life and they should know! But it’s time to leave and, although I could happily stay a bit longer, I am ready to go.
Kissing everyone goodbye it’s sad but we have all done it many times before and we have mastered the art of staying close when we are far. Nigel and Julia are waiting at the airport and it feels good to be together again. I haven’t been away from Julia for such a long period before and, o f course, I was separated from Sofia for an even longer time. I am learning to let them go, in fact we have all cooped pretty well with these separations. This realisation brings me comfort.
I get up in Melbourne after a sleepless night. But somehow even the dreaded jet leg doesn’t feel so bad this time. It’s Christmas’ eve and I walk out into the sunshine. On the way to the shops I meet a neighbour who fills me in with her renovation and further down I have a chat with the man from the video shop walking his dogs. Christmas wishes and welcome back hug from one of my fellow aqua aerobic really makes me feel like…I am home!
Going back to my initial thought, I ended up writing in English and, of course, I have to ask myself why. Has English taken over? After spending some time pondering on this I come to the conclusion that English is the language I am better at being an adult and “reflection” is a very adult concept. It comes more natural to me to reflect in English but this exercise is not over yet and I am determined to do some reflecting in Italian. Stay tuned italians followers!