Well, I have done it again. Booked tickets without really thinking about it. I started off reminiscing about Fiji, as it was the last time I had a genuine holiday and the kids loved it and amused themselves for hours in the pool that had the bar with endless soft drinks. The idea of lying by the pool, with a pile of books, while I waited for the adult bar to open at 10.30am was rather appealing. Somehow, my investigations into Fiji ended up with me again booking non-refundable international flight tickets. I texted my girlfriend Julie-chan to let her know that I was now the rather nervous owner of three flights to Italy leaving at the end of the year. She told me that it took her back two years to when she received a text late at night from me saying, “oh my god, I have just booked three around the world tickets.”
Italy is calling. Florence is calling. Tuscany is calling, and the kids and I are returning to Italy. This time it is not such a monumental trip. I have organised house sitters rather than tenants, I don’t need to sell all my possessions, or my car, or upend my life, and we are only going for a month. To Tenterfield, we will return in time for the kids to start Year 6. To Tenterfield, I will always return.
My heart and my gut were simply telling me it was time. I knew that it was something I needed to do. I have such a strong yearning to return to Italy. Sometimes the yearning is so strong it hurts. In some ways, it is also a trip that I am going to find incredibly confronting, but it is something I simply need to do. It is time for me to pull on my big girl pants and to go back. For the first week or so, after booking our tickets I burst into tears whenever I thought about it as the idea of returning has brought back some extraordinarily powerful emotions. My being a nut job basket case is nothing new, though sometimes I forget how often I teeter on the edge.
After Australia, Italy is quite simply my favourite place in the world. I know I will never be able to complete our original trip, but I want to return and finish things on a different note. I also know that I need to go back and face a few things that I am yet to face. I know that I must face the almost debilitating fear that by going away, I will face great loss. I will have to face International airports that remind me of panic attacks where I had to remind myself how to breathe. I know that I will return to a place where I was both the happiest in my life and one week later, the most devastated. I will sit in that place where I got the phone call that changed my life and will have to remember how my heart quite literally broke into a million pieces and that those pieces scattered so far and wide, that I know for certain I never got all of them back.
I am going to find those pieces, wrap them in cotton wool and if I can’t bring them back with me, I am simply going to put them somewhere safe. I want to return to Florence and stand in the concourse of that train station I loved. I know I will remember standing there sobbing as I thrust euros into Archie’s and Rissie’s hands while I told them to go and get some McDonald’s and ignored them while they cried as well and told me they were not hungry. I don’t want to hold onto that memory anymore, I want to remember what it was like to feel an unbridled sense of joy and excitement as Archie, Rissie and I stepped off a train on one of our days off and knew that we had a day ahead of us of being lost in Florence.
I want to get to Venice. I want to sit in the Libreria Acqua Alta, perhaps the most beautiful bookstore in the world and whisper to Tiney, “I made it Tiney, I made it to Venice.” I know what she would say, as she swings on a heavenly star that is now complete with twinkle lights and flicks her cigarette at me. She would say, “What took you so bloody long matey, what took you so long?”
Almost four weeks in Italy. I have no idea what we are going to do, but we are returning to Uzzano in Tuscany and spending time with our Italian family. I do know I want to catch the train to Florence and to take deep breaths and then to go get lost. To find cheap bowls of pasta and to give the kids a map and follow them aimlessly for hours. I want to go to Venice. I want to pick up a book in that bookstore I have dreamed about forever. I want to put my feet in the Piazza San Marco and to just be. I want to buy so much Schiacciata bread that I want to burst, and I want to walk back in the early morning feeling the warm olive oil seep through the paper bag while telling the kids we have to walk back up the hill to home before we can eat it.
I want to eat gelato. I want to eat gelato slowly like the Italians do and then get another one. I want to say goodbye with tears of joy, rather than tears of loss. I just want to go back. I want to face a few demons and be reminded of my angels.
Italy is calling. Time to dust of the passports and the backpacks. Time for a new adventure. Italy is calling.