Buon Giorno Everyone!
In a little more than three months I will be doing something I’ve dreamed about doing for most of my adult life, which equates to a looong time. I’m going to Italy! I can barely write the words without shivering a little bit for the joy I feel. I also bawl like a baby every time PBS runs a Rick Steves in Italy special. Actually, I’ve been known to sniffle a little and whisper it’s so beautiful at the sight of the Tuscan Hills or the Amalfi Coast on TV, which may have something to do with why my sweet husband is encouraging me to take this trip. He knows how much I’ve wanted this. But he’s not coming along.
No, the old man is staying home to take care of the dog. And sending me to Italy with a friend. At first the thought of going without him brought me to tears. (I know…I sound like a total basket case, but I’m really not. I don’t cry much–for an Italian) He’s my best friend and we have so much fun together, so of course I would rather have him along. However, for the longest time, way in the back of my mind, I’ve had a sneaking suspicion that if I wanted to get to Italy before I permanently check out, I might have to go without him. I even had a dream a few years back that the two of us were at the Airport, tickets in hand, headed for Italy, and he chickened out at the gate. That dream kind of freaked me out. So Yeah, I’m going without him.
That doesn’t mean that I’m not a little un-easy about it all. We’re spending a lot of dough on a trip to Italy for me. He just retired last year, and money, of course, is tighter now, so I’ll be making a big dent in the savings account without much hope of replenishing it anytime soon. Since Glenn’s always been the bread-winner and I’ve always been the unpaid artist/ writer/gardener, with at best a part-time job, I’m not used to spending large amounts of cash on myself. And I know I am going to miss him and Cosmo terribly while I’m away and worry about Glenn’s diet, which will probably consist mainly of coffee, potato chips and Vanilla Bean ice cream. But I am going to go.
I am going because I have to. I have to see Italy in the flesh. I have to taste it. I have to smell it. I have to live it. I don’t have a lot of dreams. I don’t have a bucket list. Well, actually I do, and this is it: GO TO ITALY.
When I get there, I am going to eat gelato in every flavor I want, and walk down ancient cobbled streets saying Buon Giorno to everyone I see, and hurt my neck looking up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I am going to drink Italian wine, and sip cappuccino in a real Italian cafe, and eat cannoli and tiramisu, and thin crust pizza and I won’t care if I have to wear stretch pants for a month when I get home. I’m going to hike the seaside villages of the Cinque Terra, and eat too much chocolate at the Euro Chocolate Festival in Perugia, take a painting class in Siena, and be blown away by art and architecture and food and culture and bus rides along narrow winding roads with a driver shouting obscenities at other drivers. Damn I can’t wait.
While I am there, I am going to miss my husband Glenn and my dog Cosmo. I’ll miss my sister Judy, my best girlfriend,who I would stuff into my suitcase and take along if I could. I will miss my brother Phil who is a walking encyclopedia and would be beside himself too if he could see the things he’s read about and wondered at all his life. I would take them all and others with me, if I could. But I can’t. I can take me and my journal and camera and my fuzzy little brain and cram them all full of so much Italy that it will last me the rest of my life if it has to. Because this may very well be my only chance to do this…to stand where Michelangelo stood as he painted a fresco, to eat the delicacies my ancestors ate and hear the language they spoke spoken in their native land, to dip my tired feet and wiggle my little American toes in the warm waters of the Mediterranean. It’s all so exciting and I feel completely selfish about it, but I can’t let that stop me.
I’ve decided I even need to do a little shopping for this trip. Italians are very fashion conscious, and I am, to put it nicely, fashion challenged. I don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb. For once in my life, I want to fit into my surroundings. “While in Rome, do as the Romans do” means I’m going to have to glam up the wardrobe considerably. And I really hope that while I’m there I can keep the lump that I feel in my throat, even as I write this, from turning me into a blithering idiot with puffy red eyes clutching a damp kleenex to her chest, because that is just not an attractive look at all.