Thursday, July 8, 2010

Arrivederci

What's your favorite thing about the country where you live?

For me, I love the pace of Sicily; I love its slowness. I don't mean I love the inefficiency, the half-finished roads or the repairs that have taken years to complete, but I love the pace of the island itself; the pace of my own discovery.

In the countryside, where I've spent these past three years, nothing is advertised. There aren't major highways or billboards dotting the roads, and at first I thought that was because there wasn't anything there. After all, I didn't notice neighborhoods of clustered houses --- the kind that are so ubiquitous in America --- or restaurants with their hours posted on the doors. Instead, I noticed gates, closed gates, in the middle of brambly, overgrown fields, and I started to explore.

What I discovered was amazing. Behind all those gates were pathways and, as I went deeper, those brambly, overgrown fields gave way to terraces and gardens and terra cotta pots full of flowers and hidden restaurants that served elegant, well-appointed meals. I found farms where my girls could drink fresh milk, taste ricotta, and ride horses. I met farmers who smiled and handed me figs. I tasted olive oil and wine. I discovered the names of the flowers and learned how to choose a perfectly ripe orange. Sicily was sharing its secrets.

I fell in love with this island slowly, and now it's time for me to say goodbye. I know it's ridiculous, but I feel like I'm saying goodbye to a lover: I'm excited to move on, but I'm sad to leave.

Last night at dinner we were sitting on the terrace drinking wine. From the outside, the restaurant was unadvertised, perfectly hidden, but from where we sat there were crimson cloths and candles on every table. Lemon trees dotted the space around me, along with pots of purple pansies and bushes of well-trimmed yellow lantana. In the near distance, I could hear water gurgling across a cracked, three-tiered, stone fountain.  I crossed my legs, admiring my new Italian sandals, smoothed my skirt and laughed when Penelope mirrored my movements exactly. The evening air felt warm across my shoulders, almost tender, and far from feeling riddled with languaged-induced anxiety, I felt perfectly at ease. Eventually, a man brought me an insalata caprese and Chris a plate of bruschetta. We'd ordered well. We were ready to begin.

After all those years of nervousness and discovery, last night I finally felt at home on this island, and now it's time to start the process all over again. 

Intellectually, I know we'll be fine. We'll make a new home for ourselves in Japan and we'll fall in love with a new culture all over again, but right now I'm struggling to say goodbye to Sicily. Tomorrow night, like something out of a movie, we'll say goodbye to this island and fly home to wait for our next adventure. Tomorrow night we'll be sad, but we'll also be excited. As for tonight, tonight my realizations are falling just short of the bigger picture. Right now, I'm just glad to be here ---

Arrivederci, bella Sicilia! Ti amo...

14 comments:

  1. I know how you feel. it will come my time to say goodbye to London and so far I am leaving it till then.

    I never said goodbye to Italy buy come January I have to say goodbye to Europe for a long time.

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  2. You've brought tears to my eyes. I can only imagine how hard it is for you to say good-bye to Sicily. It pulls on my heartstrings still. But, selfishly, I'm glad you're leaving Sicily because it means you're coming home and I can't wait to see you!!

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  3. Buona fortuna! L'Italia sarĂ  sempre nel cuore.

    Your words are magic. Consider me a new follower.

    Alita

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  4. What a gorgeous good bye evening :)
    Have a safe journey - will be thinking of you!

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  5. Somehow, I'm crying here in Missouri, like I'm the one leaving the beautiful Sicily. Enjoy your last day and night...breathe deeply :)

    I can't wait to hear your gorgeous descriptions and discoveries of Japan!

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  6. Sounds like a wonderful way to say goodbye. Sicily will miss you as well I am sure.

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  7. This is a lovely tribute post to Sicily Emily. I have really enjoyed reading your blog, and I look forward to reading your future adventures when you head to Japan. Safe travels.

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  8. My God, Emily, you just made me cry.

    Love, Dad

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  9. Buon viaggio to the four of you, Thankyou for sharing your life in Sicily with us all in the special way you having of putting your feelings into words. I am looking forward to learning all about life in Japan.

    Take Care Linda x

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  10. I'm going to miss Sicily, and I've never even been there. Safe travels, friend.

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  11. Emily,
    you have a gift for writing your feelings in such a way that your readers feel with you. My best wishes for safe travels...
    Tina

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  12. That was beautiful, Emily! You've made me sad all over again. I really miss Sicily more than I thought I would. As much as some of the aspects drove me crazy, I really miss the people and the SERENITY!

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  13. Oh, Emily. I'm a few days late, but this was such a lovely, moving post. I feel like I was there, and now I really want to go there.
    Looking forward to having you help me fall in love with Japan as well. Hope everything is going well. :)

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  14. Miss you already, so sorry I couldn't ever say 'hello' or 'goodbye' in person! I look forward to reading more about your adventures through the US and onto amazing Japan! xoKaren

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