Sunday, April 30, 2006

Two and a Half Weeks

So I'm leaving. I'm going back home to Italy after this two and half week long impromptu visit to the states, and I already know it's going to be tough going back. These two weeks have been rather solid weeks--good long days, early-to-bed evenings, plenty of time spent with family, and moments stolen here and there with friends. Every time I come back to this house, to these memories and the warmth and love of family and friends from home, I feel like getting my feet back on that plane--soaring back to Macerata--is a challenge. I love my life in Italy, but boy do I miss my life right here in America.

I've done a lot these past couple of weeks. I got back into running finally (hope to keep that up in Italy!), I went out to lunch and dinner a dozen times with friends, I got to see my friend Allison who drove all the way up to Indy from St. Louis to see me (yay! Thanks Al!), I took morning walks with my mom, I shopped, I went to church. However, in all of that time, I didn't even get to give up my teaching job completely. Wednesday afternoon of this week, I taught Italian language and culture to my dad's seventh grade class: a quick 50 minutes of hoosier-sounding ciaos and piaceres and basic Italy overviews. Although some kids didn't know much about Italy when the class started (Name an Italian City: "I know, I know!...Greece?" or Name a famous person who lives in Italy: "Oh! What's your husband's name? Is he famous?"), the hour ended with students pronouncing Modigliani correctly and firmly shouting "Arrivederci!" as I left.

Perhaps teaching about Italy made it more clear how much this Italian life has become a part of me, that it is very much my adopted home, and I miss it like I do my own country. Tonight, as I stuff that last jar of banana peppers, that box of jelly bellies, and that tin of maple syrup--suitcases full of American memories--into the deep dark corners of my luggage, I try to remember that. There's a big part of me that simply longs for the welcome sight of my (famous) husband at the airport and the feel of his arms again. I miss everything from driving through the countryside to eating dinner at my house, and I miss my Italian friends. And if I think on that enough, those thoughts are all I need to get myself on that plane heading east.

But we'll take off tomorrow, drive up north to Chicago to catch a plane at O'Hare, and there will be a moment, halfway there, when I'll feel displaced. Looking out at the familiar grid of this home where my family lives--where my memories have dug deep holes into the landscape and stubbornly placed roots--I will be in between something. I will be caught in the middle of moving back from one home to another. It's a strange feeling, a kind of homesickness that doesn't know if it misses the Italian hill towns or the Indianapolis skyline.

Yet all along I've known that the answer is simple: this kind of homesickness misses both places: the familiar patterns of home that have been lucky enough to find themselves in two different places, making each one longed for in those moments in between.


Corrie, Cassie, and Eric: I'll miss you guys! Hi to Jill and Jerry--it was great to see you! Allison, you too! Congrats to Maura on the race! Hope it went well. Family--I love you.


At 9:26 AM, Blogger Cynthia Rae said...

Oh Jackie, this post was beautifully written and brought tears to my eyes. You have summed up exactly how I feel, but haven't had the words to describe. Always missing one place while in the other. Just remember, Antonello is waiting here for you...(and so are we).

Hope you have a safe and uneventful trip home.

At 4:16 PM, Anonymous Cathy said...

Hi Jackie,
Torn between two worlds...doesn't it sound like a soap opera? :) Anyway, I enjoyed this post a lot...I can definitely relate to it, as you know. I think it's fantastic to have two homes in the world. There's a book called "Almost French" by Sarah Turnbull that discusses this phenomena well, only about France.

Hope you had a safe trip back to Italia!

Take care, Cathy

At 8:54 PM, Blogger Expat Traveler said...

Just stumbled onto your blog. It's a great read, must come back and read more.. :)

At 12:51 AM, Blogger Stelle In Italia said...

Ciao Bella,

Wonderful post. We love having you here, in this American corner of the world, but we also love that Italia has claimed you. How can we not want to share you with our amici across the sea? (Um, and use your guest room from time to time.) :-)

Miss you but see you soon!

At 12:05 PM, Blogger Stelle In Italia said...

just got back to italy! sounds like this concept of having two homes is less rare than I'd once thought :)! Antonello is very happy that i'm home, and i'm glad to be here too--but i definitely miss the other side of the world too!


At 5:30 PM, Blogger Tracie B. said...

bentornata! that was a great explanation of our expat ambivalence. no matter where i go, i always miss something!


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