It is hard to believe that in less than a week we will be leaving the USA and will be arriving in what I am sure will be, the completely different world of Italy. By the time we leave we will have been lucky enough to have spent three months here. Roughly 5 weeks in the summer and 7 weeks in the winter. With our departure for our next leg of the journey becoming more and more of a reality I have memories and moments swimming in my head competing to be my favourite. There are too many to just choose one, but I know that these vignettes will stay with me for a lifeline.
Friends: I am lucky to have been surrounded by the most amazing people in the USA. Funnily enough, due to this, I have been constantly reminded of the friends I also have back home. I think someone wise once said, that if you have more than one really good friend then you are very lucky. Well in that case, my cup truly does runneth over. Friends prove that time and distance will never matter. Back home I only have to speak with a friend as she makes coffee in the background or drags on a cigarette to know that everything is ok. Or to get an email from another whose emails have truly kept me sane for almost 25 years. Or to Facebook message a very special eclectic group of Squirrels whose ramblings continue to make me smile and immediately feel at home. I am blessed and it makes it easier to know that I have friendships that last the ages when contemplating leaving the States.
We have been truly welcomed, embraced and loved during our time in the States. Strachan and Robert have opened their homes and hearts to me and mine with amazing love and generosity and have made three little Aussies in the Attic feel incredibly special. Words can never express my gratitude. Family is not always about blood, family is also about people who make your black heart beat with joy. So many people who will stay with me forever. The generosity of spirit and huge hearts are largely why a part of me will always consider America a place that a little piece of me calls a very special second home. The amazing girls and the games nights where I have laughed until I cried. Sally, Bette, Kris, Sarah, Stangle, Marty, Noriko, Lesley. Too many people to name but I have been truly touched by the characters and the warm hearts that have added to our amazing time in the USA.
Places: New York City is known as the Big Apple and the City that never sleeps. It is a city that I love, that fascinates me, that scares me, that is completely overwhelming. It is a city that I wish I had more time to explore, to get to know the little neighbourhoods and side streets that could so easily become a home like no other.
Washington D.C. was a place that took me by surprise. I never expected to fall in love with it but I did. It was beautiful in a way that I cannot describe. So many monuments that take your breath away. So many green spaces, so much history. Home to the Library of Congress, the largest library in the world, what more can a girl say but oh my.
Atlanta. I had no expectations of Atlanta apart from being a place to stop and rest before we headed to Costa Rica. It was another place that took me completely by surprise. The home of Martin Luther King, a hot and steamy metropolis that could grab you by your heart and never let you go.
Rhode Island & Providence. Rhode Island and Providence will always hold a special place in my heart. A state whose symbol is an Anchor and its word is Hope. Home to a library that I thought was the most beautiful library in the world. I will always be a girl from New England. My home is in New England, Australia and a little piece of my heart will also be in New England, USA.
Moments: I cannot think which is my favourite moment but there are so many. Moments that make me smile, that make me want to grab a bottle and get wasted, that wrench at my heart and moments that make me laugh until I wet my pants.
Sitting on the tarmac in Washington D.C. for hours and attempting to sleep at Penn Station whilst trying to keep an appendage on every piece of luggage we owned. Arriving in Grand Central Station for the first time and feeling like I was going to be swallowed whole by the teeming mass of humanity that is New York. Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge with tears streaming down my face because for a moment it was all too much. Getting onto the train after the first day in New York City and sobbing like a mad woman when a stranger asked me if I was ok.
Being handed baseball caps by a perfect stranger at a baseball game and watching the kids bay for blood and scream their lungs out at an Ice-Hockey game. Ice-skating on Central Park and for a moment being a girl in skates wearing a red coat, living in a world where dreams really do come true. Walking the beach at Narragansett and watching my kids take an icy plunge. Stalking the biggest fucking rat I have ever seen in Central Park in an effort to get the perfect Squirrel photo. Squirrels.
Watching Archie try to play a piano whilst being looked down on by Martin Luther King. Hours at the Athenaeum. Rissie trailing her hands in the reflection pool as she wandered silently through the memorial for Martin Luther King. Amazing Grace in Atlanta and gospel singing that was so incredibly beautiful that it hurt my heart. Crazy Rick on the New York trains who spoke to my kids for 30 minutes about headless chickens and made them laugh after a very long day.
Snow and a world that was transformed into one of fairy-tales – moments that were more beautiful than words can ever say. Being surrounded by the complete stillness that is that of falling snow. Walking by the river and pretending to be a thing of beauty whilst falling thigh high into a snow filled ditch. Frozen swans. I will never forget the fucking frozen swans. Mornings by the river. Church steeples against blue skies.
So many moments. America thank you for filling my heart with joy and for giving me so many reasons to smile, laugh and cry.