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...