Saturday, November 2, 2013

Same Time, Last Year

On November the first, 2012, my friend Lois dropped me off in Barnstable for the bus that would take me to Logan Airport in Boston.  Over a cup of coffee during our wait, she handed me a book of blank pages.  On the cover of the book, the word "thoughts" repeated over and over.  With an understanding smile on her face, all she said was "write everything down" journey had only just begun.  After hours and hours, bus, planes and trains, I would arrive to the waiting arms of my friends in Umbria.

"Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts, thoughts, thoughts, thoughts, thoughts, thoughts"

Thank you Lois.

It's hard for me to believe that a year has passed since my journey.  Really hard.  My life has been altered in so many positive ways and I am aware of these changes as I pass through my current life.  I have stories and memories to fill a lifetime.  I've made new friends there and here and have spent countless hours reflecting on the roles that they play in my life and me, in theirs.  Hours now have new meaning.  I think about time a lot, visualizing over and over the hours that I spent in Assisi.  Walks that became for me, meditations. Walks that lasted for hours .Bits of my day spent watching other lives in motion around me.  I drew conclusions and made comparisons, all the while reflecting on my past, my cultural heritage and how all the pieces fit together.  Every little detail mattered. And I wrote all of it down.
On the other end of the ocean, my wonderful friends Giselle and Mark who met me at the train in Trevi and brought me to Assisi

 It occurs to me now, that the first meal that I prepared for myself while there, was chicken soup.  Without a thought, I cooked to calm myself, to "get better", in much the same way my grandmother and mother might have were one of us physically ailing.  How appropriate and how perfect a choice at the start or my journey. I often think back to the way each of those days had their start.  The adage that says no matter where you go, there you are, keeps resurfacing.  I'm an early riser here.  I was an early riser there.  My morning routine replicated what it has been since my retirement. One that has changed since my return..... Early up, followed by a series of preparations for the day ahead and always, tidying up  The routine was completed at the same time every day. I allow myself now to be surrounded by "works in progress" and find comfort in knowing that some things improve after sitting on my desk, that creativity comes when I least expect it and I don't want to miss it when it arrives.  Tidiness has taken on a different appearance. The new order puts my own needs very up front.  Gratefully, I have a husband and grown children who delight in and respect that idea.
The beautiful kitchen in my beautiful apartment

Looking out the window and to the left from #20 Via San Paolo

 I did not have a clock in the apartment on San Paolo. I moved to a natural clock.  I cleaned and kept house to please only myself .  Pleasing and gifting myself  have become parts of a newer me.  If my routine is interrupted it is at my personal command. A gift that keeps on giving.  From me, to me just as I gifted myself with special purchases over the course of that month. In honor of a new commitment, I just made another purchase from the shop in Assisi where I bought the perfume that I wear almost every day. The scent, called "Profumo D'Umbria"  is made up of beautiful florals that remind me of a special time in a special place. The scent called to me weeks before I left this country. After seeing a post on Facebook, I contacted the shop owner and we started a dialog. It was the first essential purchase made in Assisi.  Pietro, the owner, told me about Elna, the lovely artist who would eventually teach me that there was a reason behind my self-indulgences. Gifting, because I was happy with myself.  She is the person who also taught me what to do with seashells and I have been using them in little works of art ever since. There is something beautifully eerie about a Danish woman, living in Assisi, who works with seashells of the same variety found on Cape Cod. Here is one of her creations
On the wall in Elna's apartment

My "Madonna"


Pietro Mariottini, the lovely man who owns BAT Assisi

 My creative life is so much livelier now.  My thoughts in solitude were not vacant.  What I saw through my eyes and heard with my ears went to folders in my brain, waiting to be re-opened months later. The sounds of the angels singing Lodi in Santa Chiara at precisely six forty five in the morning, still deeply imprinted there. What I missed with my eyes, my camera, always in the palm of my hand, captured. That little camera became my best friend.  Not only did it serve to remind me of details I would later forget, but it reminded me of the kindness and wisdom of my daughter who first placed it in my hands. Her words, "Take pictures of the faces Mom"  like those of Lois' ran through my mind like clouds racing across the autumn sky.
                                     Early morning, waiting to enter Santa Chiara for Lodi


  In my bliss, I had little knowledge of the continuing saga on my homeland.  Words in the American press that told of loss after loss due to the power and strength of Superstorm Sandy.  Photos of places, once beloved homes of strangers, now reduced to rubble. In the little town of Assisi, I was sheltered from this news just as I was from any news.  Of importance was that which  happened in the moment, laced with parts of my past.  Peace and goodness filled my spaces.

I wear color now, with black as my underlay, all kinds of bright colors are now parts of my life.  My new friend Josie Comodi is all about color.  She's the silk artist I wrote about last year. Her wisdom, her tenacity and her life, so different now from her former life in the corporate world, inspired me and filled my life with hope. Her legacy to me....a painted silk, created for the Hope Hospice in Sandwich Massachusetts.  It was her special gift and I had the privilege of witnessing it from its birth as a piece of white silk to its completion as a beautiful reminder in colors and glitters.  A reminder that life is filled with joy, even when it is approaching an end.  The silk will be hung at the hospice as soon as their renovations have been completed. From Italy, with love.

Beautiful Josie Comodi

As I write this, I hear rain on the rooftop of our apartment.  The sun is having great problems rising.  The day does not hold much promise for the brilliance that the days of October delivered.  That's okay.  It will be nice to have some extra quiet time, to be with my husband all day and later this evening to meet up with our friends Lu and Joanne for dinner.  I'm sure that when Lu called to ask if we were free for dinner, she did not remember that we would be dining on this particular evening.  I think it is lovely.  Lu was one of those friends who understood and supported me during my mother's illness and death.  A memory on this side of the ocean sees me in my car, my cell phone ringing and her incredible response to my weeping.  I had just picked up my mother's ashes and now, had one more task to confront, finding a suitable container for the funeral service which would be the next day.  "Just come home" she told me.  "I'll help you shop".

I've come home.  My friends who cared, they all helped me.  They allowed me to tell my stories and never alluded to my having spent time on a "vacation".  The "journey" was understood and as good friends do, they shared this with me until I tired of the telling and they. of the listening. You know who you are, my friends and you know who you aren't as well - just in case you're wondering......if you haven't heard from me in a while, there IS a reason.

To all of you, then, who gave me the stories, thank you. And  to all of you who have been so incredibly patient and understanding by allowing  me to share them, thank you.

And most of all, to my husband who supported me all the way, every day, bless you my dear friend.

To my son, who I know understood and to my daughter who totally got "it", my heart overflows with love for you both.

It's been a very good year.

1 comment:

  1. Touche my friend! I know your feelings by heart. They are my feelings to a tee!