The difficulty in visiting a place over and over is that the connections are deeper and
stronger each time. There are many heart-filling moments in this last month that tie me to Southern Italy.
As much as I am ready to be home, I am sad to leave. I won’t really know how many things I miss until I am living without them.
I know will miss being greeted in the Italian way: eyes meeting mine, my hands grasped, each cheek air-kissed. Such enthusiasm can’t help but make me feel welcomed and acknowledged.
No welcome could be greater than our inclusion by Gina. When we arrive we become a part of her family. Born in San Francisco to Calabrian parents, one part of her heart is reserved for all things American.
She is loving and beautiful and embraces us within her deep yearning for the United States that she hasn’t visited in so long. I feel as if a part of her is coming home with me.
Leaving Lavinia and Paola again is leaving good friends, too. This year Gina translated for us and we learned how much we hadn’t understood of our conversations in past years. Still we all comprehend that our friendship transcends language. Wherever I see Lavinina, on the street, at the store, or on a bench near the pedonale, we recognize our bond.
I felt the same about my last visit with Rosealba.
She helped created my contact with home on my first month-long visit here when I was totally alone. Placidly, she sat by me at a street-side table in her restaurant,
smiling and nodding as I used her internet to connect with my world at home. This year I took my computer with me again and we google-translated our conversation.
Her smile was broad when she could truly understand me. I can still feel the lingering touch of her hand on my arm as she held my gaze before parting.
I’ve already talked a lot about so many of our friends. But when I think of true connection, I think of Luigi. I aspire to greet people as warmly as Luigi greets us each time he sees us.
And, of course, I will miss the markets: especially the fish lady and the one white-haired Italian woman in town.
Maybe most of all I’ll miss the month-long slumber party which never lost it’s joy.
Unless this group goes with me I don’t know if I will return to Scalea…but my heart will return there often.