Observations…

I know I write a lot about what I’ve been doing, but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg in a lot of ways. The motions we go through on a daily basis are really just that– motions. I’m trying to make observations about how I’m changing, but that’s not an easy thing to do when you are the one doing the changing. I already know that I’ve changed in some big ways but I can’t put a finger on how yet. There are definitely things that strike me as interesting. Sometimes I think that I was completely unprepared for what this semester was going to be like. I was so extremely caught up in packing, saying goodbyes, and filling out forms that I did almost no mental preparation for what it was going to be like– literally removing oneself from all comforts, all vices, all loves is not an easy thing to do, and instead of dwelling on this while here, I am trying to observe my own reaction to this and adjust accordingly. It definitely brings up interesting points. I start to miss things that I never thought I’d miss. I know I’ve said this already but it is amazing what leaving behind the comforts of home can do. Now, I know I’m just gone for a semester, and I know it’s flying by already, but you have to understand what it feels like to be so far away from home. It’s such a bittersweet experience.

It’s funny. When I think of myself at home, I think of my little lavender office and I think of sitting in my desk chair and twisting back and forth, staring out the window and watching thunderstorms come in over our little field outside and thinking what’s beyond it, what’s beyond Gibsonville, Burlington, North Carolina, America… thinking how I know I’m meant for “more than this,” how “out there,” there is so much noise and action and I’m just here in my office, thinking about it. I think of driving a little too fast down the almost-too-familiar Neelley Road towards mommy and daddy’s house, my childhood home, taking a deep, satisfying breath if I get lucky and come home the week the wisteria is flourishing in the summertime or the time in the fall when the trees are on fire… pulling into the driveway and hugging Daphne and Delilah, the ever-faithful puppies… summer dinners in the garden battling bugs and wondering if the sun is ever going to set, winter vegetarian chili in front of the fireplace and hoping it snows but of course it never does… and then going back to the townhouse and once again thinking, “I’m meant for bigger places.”

So, here I am, in bigger places, doing bigger things, and I find myself thinking so often of home and wondering exactly where life sits… is it in the adventures or the comforts, or somewhere in between? Is it in the details or the big lessons? And if it is in the moral of the story, how come the moral always takes so many years to really grow and blossom until it’s so far in the past that it has become a natural part of life? We are a very goal-oriented race, often ignoring the journey, and I find myself living it so vividly here that it is a very new experience.

Why do we always want to be somewhere else? Or why, more specifically, do I?

This morning I woke up and put on my tennis shoes and decided to go on a long walk. I walked through the center of the city, past the accordion player, the little old men with their bushy white eyebrows and bright blue eyes, the women in their furs, and just kept going down, down, down and found myself at the walking track which is on flat ground (very exciting). Of course, the gate was closed but I sat on the wide marble bleachers for a long time and just breathed. Off the top of the mountain, it was several degrees warmer and sunnier. It was such a safe place. Of course, as soon as I left, I was followed by one of the sketchy guys for awhile until I took off into a jog (which worked because I was wearing workout clothes anyway) and it was such an odd, extreme few minutes of feeling completely safe and then very vulnerable until I got back to the center. The thing is, I was never in an unsafe place, or even an isolated place… there are just weird people everywhere here.

Anyway, don’t get me wrong… this place, so far away and so beautiful, is slowly becoming not so far away, not so unfamiliar. It’s becoming comfortable.

Yesterday, Anna and I decided that getting out of Perugia for the day would be a good idea. So we hopped on the first train to Assisi, which is about 20 minutes from Perugia. Once there, we found the first bus up the hill and wandered around for the afternoon. The cathedrals there were so stunning. There is a line in one of my favorite songs that says, “In the cathedrals of New York and Rome, there is a feeling that you should just go home and spend a lifetime finding out just what that is.” I never really understood this until I got here… the smaller cathedrals are my favorite. They are so sacred and suddenly you understand why the little old ladies are there that kneel in the pews rolling their rosaries over their knuckles with their heads bowed … they feel it. They feel something in there that I feel too, and I don’t know what it is. I’m not excessively religious, and I’m definitely not Catholic, but these places bring a solitude to your soul that you know you could never find anywhere else. In the first cathedral we went into, I lit a prayer candle for my sister’s birthday, and one for my family. We also went in the Saint Francis basilica, which is enormous. We saw a mass being performed, and I must say, this place didn’t do it for me as much. It was too big, it felt a big oppressive. It was beautiful, but less personal. And then, of course, we sat in a gelateria and giggled and said what we’ve said every time we’ve done this– “No, really, this time, this is the best gelato we’ve had.”

Anyway, just thought I’d throw those thoughts out there. It’s yet another cloudy day here in Perugia, but fortunately I have a lot of homework to do. Also, there is a cafe very close to here that has a piano in it and I might ask if I can play it. There’s never anyone in there.

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!!! 🙂 Kisses to you all… miss you!

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