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Success, Failure...some of my greatest failures have been a springboard to my greatest successes...the terms are truly fluid.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

21 Ciao

     This morning I felt a true wave of overwhelming home sickness. I missed my dogs, my family, my life left behind.

     My mood went into a very dark depressed place before Spencer woke up. I worried with a heartfelt frown about everything. Suddenly I felt like a screw up and very insecure. My money problems were $700 worse than I thought because I had received an email from Stefano, who had showed me nothing but kindness, that my check had bounced with him. This was horrifying for many reasons. I saw a $700 check go through. To have been my landlord’s it would have had to have been held for months before being cashed. That was the only other $700 check that could have gone through. I had already been gone from the US for over a month and a half when it went through! I have had so much trouble negotiating the differences between US dollars, European Euros and British pounds. I also had found out first hand that the exchange rates are all stacked against me and that nothing matches the exchange rates they show on the news shows. It is no secret either that even under ideal conditions, I have in the past, been unlucky with money.

      I thought for sure I could sail in now with few expenses left but a train ticket and bus back to Firenze. I also have 3 hostel days left to pay for at the tail end of my trip. That can be anywhere on my trip that has a cheap place to stay along the bus or rain ticket lines. We don’t have to stay in expensive places like Rome so I thought that was something I could work with a bit. Meals on the road can be quite affordable here where you buy pizza by the weight.

     My sense of failure permeated everything. I am sure I might have seemed like a mechanical version of myself to Spencer when he got up.

     That change of mood had been caused by imagining my benefactor here, Stefano’s face, who is friends with every single person I have met here. I had to rethink how I got in this mess when I had checked and double checked every detail. This also mortified me beyond compare. Stefano had been so kind to Spencer and I as he introduced us to people all over the area. He also used lots of gas and not to mention his time driving over to Giulianova and waiting for us at the train station. Even though we were an hour late after missing a train in Bologna, he was waiting patiently though we had not asked him to even pick us up. His kindness did not stop there, but spilled out into also sharing his house as well.

    When he put out word that he needed to talk to me, I had 4 people come up to me hours after I had found his email (and answered him) to tell me to call Stefano ASAP. I also have to say that Stefano was so good to me that I really could not stand the idea of him not having his deserved payment now, not later.

    I happened to find my little sister while I was agonizing just after I found the email. I had kind of frozen at the screen trying to figure out what I could do to rectify the situation. Suddenly I was not on the trip of my lifetime…enjoying most of my dreams come true…but instead I felt like an idiot who had gotten herself stuck in a foreign country without enough funding to have the absolutely mandatory things like food and housing.

     Of course now I can see that this is the way of everyday life too. All of us have the feeling we are doing just fine until one little thing derails our ideas of who we are and what we are up to as we run along living a life of our choosing. Suddenly we all get that kick in the stomach that feels an awful lot like failure.

     My sisters, both of them, are the new and improved versions of me, in my mind. Neither of them would be in this predicament. Both are wonderfully practical and actually get paid for being intellectually intelligent. I have almost never been paid, being the housewife and mommy sort and never have really used much of my intellect as I blunder through my life. I am OK with that usually. I feel happy and sometimes insulated since I am not always seeing what can go wrong…giving one of my sisters the right to call me the “one who always looks at life through rose colored glasses.”

     My littlest sister had calmed my nerves enough to move me forward as she reminded me to write Stefano first. Today was late Friday here. Even though the bank is closed in California for a holiday this Monday, I knew I would somehow find a way to have that money sent via money order on the next business day. Even if I pooled together my food money now and my food money for next month Stefano had to have his pay or I would die of embarrassment.

     It still amazed me how sick and completely awful I felt about myself in the process as I waded through a mess I thought I had done all I could to avoid. How differently I had felt as I had managed to make it into town two days this week, on a bus, something that all Californians seem to have a born inability to negotiate...I was feeling quite confident and together…that was just this morning. Now by the afternoon I was a wreck. I almost think my back thing was a warning to let me know something big like this was on the horizon, like some decadent foreshadowing on the real life book of my life.

     It reminded me of the ubiquitous Ciao that falls so caringly off of everyone’s lips here. It means both Hello and Goodbye. In fact Spencer and I say it so often that we are now saying it to one another. I had a dream the other night that when we got off the plane in San Francisco that we found ourselves greeting them with the cheery “Ciao!” they all say here in Italy, followed by the sweet grasping of the hands and scooping you in for a kiss on both cheeks. Everyone here does that. Male and female….friend and family. And they do the same thing for partings. Such a lovely way to show you care and remember a person’s value.

     My life had showed how quickly it could shift from hello to goodbye, happy or sad. There was an old record, I listened to that belonged to my dad…and I could hear the Old Salt’s voice, “We’re sure in a pickle Hoppy!” I can’t see anyway out just like that old story. I am sure in a pickle now…and no one even knows who Hop-Along Cassidy is anymore!

     Let’s hope here is some way out of this and I will find myself in a Ciao situation, where things shift in ways I can’t fathom now.

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