It was the best of times, (it was)
So we’ve been back from the U.S. for a few days now and despite the distraction wrecked by angry old men from all points on the fucking compass, we have mostly re-settled into a routine here in Sicily. Not the same old routine, mind you, as the one just prior to our leaving, which involved weeks, if not months, of plotting, planning and predestining a visit to our family and friends that would eventually cross seven state lines, a number of households, several different beds, and more than 2500 miles.
Because it had been well past a year (504 days to be precise) since we’d climbed aboard a plane with our four bags, I was, to say the least, putting a lot of pressure on myself and those around me—that is, anyone within reach of the internet—to pitch the perfect itinerary.
Really, other than adopting the overall program to others’ schedules, mostly our planning had to do with how to cover those many miles quickly and spend time our limited together in as efficient and accommodating manner as possible.
Before you answer, let me spare you the trouble: One doesn’t.
In the words of Shakespeare regarding such pronouncements (in his case it was the Friar factoring Romeo’s decision to marry Juliet, in mine it’s factoring the distance between two points): “Wisely and slow, they stumble that run fast."
But whatever, fast and stumble or slow and wise, all of it begs the question: When did I become this way? What made me the kind of person who needs a plan JUST to leave the house? To spend time with family, to re-connect with friends. The kind who uses words like efficiently and accommodating.
I once hitched a ride in the middle of the night with a buddy of mine just to get dropped off at a Denny’s at 2 a.m. outside of Boston because I was head over heels in love. I entered Iraq in the Persian Gulf War blasting tunes from Jimmy Buffett CD. I flew with a dog. To Germany!
Whatever happened to that guy? To the one who said Fuck yeah, I’ll split the drive with you. Drop me off at Denny’s. Buffett? You bet. Anywhere. Am I bringing the dog? Try and stop me.
I miss flying by the seat of my pants, figuring things out as they come. Mr. Happy Go Lucky. Champion of the lighthearted. We were there for only a month, in America, a place I’d spent the bulk of my fifty-
eight -nine years. I was no stranger in a strange land. I was home. Or what had been 505 days prior home. There was little need for a packing list and even less for an escape route.
At times, I was such a pain in the ass. Pouty over nonsensical stuff. Angry about stupid shit. The traffic. The high cost of…well, everything. The crowds of people. I crammed so much logistics and worry and preparation into our trip that had even me wondering would it not have been better to just show up unannounced with a knock on the door: Surprise, we’re here! What’s for dinner?
Where was the role model I longed to be? The down-to-earth guy who once spent the night on a cross country drive camped out under the stars in a sleeping bag spread on the top of a Uhaul trailer. The team player. The one spilling laughter. The optimist.
What was it holding me back from just being present in the moment? Instead I was crafting a list titled the MOST DIFFICULT THINGS, differences between Sicily and America I’d uncovered while being there. Jesus. Was this a vacation or a research trip?
I don’t have any answers. I only know that this was the first of many visits to America as not a resident but a traveler. I must do better next time or run the possible risk of not being invited back.
Anyway, here’s the list. It might be correct, but I ain’t exactly proud of it, so don’t ask for clarification. The answer you’ll get is to not make a fucking list in the first place. The better advice is—one, incidentally, that Buffett might offer—is to take everything in stride and have fun.
More Difficult In Sicily
- Not being closer to the kids
- Late dinner times
- A good library
- Driving (not safer) but I’ll take short distance chaos vs. long distance order any day
More Difficult In America
- All the stuff
- The sheer distance of getting from here to there
- The go-go-go lifestyle
- The time suck and inefficiency—that again!?—of running errands or doing just about anything
This journal of mine is supposed to cut through the bullshit we’re taught about life and living so that we can surrender to longing, forge meaning purpose and find our place. I’m not sure if being in America caused me to lose sight of that, or I was just in a hurry to fit everything in and in going so fast I stumbled.
Either way, the results—if I’m willing to listen—were plenty accommodating.
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