My photos have consumed my words. My need to communicate with others has consumed my ability to communicate with myself. What did I want from this journey? Did the simple decision to go ameliorate the actual need for departure? Did a plane ticket solve my problem?
But here I am. Swimming in fog. Trying to find my way. To learn from the lessons that repeatedly, tirelessly present themselves to me – the practical and beyond. The easy and the hard. To unlock each sense. To be open yet guarded.
What will I tell my grandchildren about this voyage? About that time… viaggio da solo?
Today I sit in Caffe Cibreo. I scrape clean my plate of flourless chocolate cake and an espresso. My fellow Americans seem unaware of this location, which is welcome to me. They swarm the Piazza del Duomo like maggots, bringing with them the vermin who prey on their ignorance. But, as the person who lost her wallet within 8 hours of arriving in Rome, I’m not all that much brighter. But I AM more empathetic.
I try to fit in, to speak the language, to request my food in its proper order, to validate my travel tickets…
I’m here to be a part of Italy, not to bring my America here. And yet music from my country pours out of almost every shop in every city. I speak in Italian, and I’m answered in English. I’m trying, but most seem weary. A few are appreciative of my humility, and truly, often it is easier to communicate in my native tongue, but to converse in another language is so meaningful to me. I feel proud and independent, a woman of the world.
But at the end of the day, sempre sono americana. And I’m proud of that, too. I want to fit in so I can move freely, not because I want to lose my roots. I want to be swift, unnoticed. I want to be here, but on my own terms – to observe, not to be observed. I feel like my safety net is so far below me here that a trip and fall is akin to taking a 1,000 foot dive into a thimble of water.
Here at the caffe, writing with my Italian paper and pen, I stretch out in my velvet theater chair, left alone with the changing afternoon light as well as the kitchen staff from pranzo a cena. I sit on the edge to watch. I should go soon and take a night in. Rest. My adventure shifts, too, and I must be ready. Assimilation is exhausting.
I dreamed in Spanish last night, which is something I never accomplished in all my years of studying THAT language. Being here has taking my subconsciousness some place new. My dreams are deep and real, but my waking hours are ever so surreal. The people I have met feel like shadows now, while I search for faces from home in throngs of strangers.