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

Friday, June 8, 2012

29 Time to Pause…

     Spencer was catching fireflies gently and setting them free last night when it hit me how much our life has changed from Santa Cruz, CA. I think we are 2 very different people now. We have played hard as a family and run around Italy, we have lived a full month in my family’s old stomping grounds in Wales, and we have lived for over a month in a rural and lovely place in the middle of Italy where there is not much English spoken.

      I also left a secure house setting and a man I was willing to marry only to have both the house and man disappear before I could return. Oddly, I find that the most intriguing change of all. He must not have matched the new person I have become. I had been complaining about the cost of living along the coast, as being too high for me since last October. I am an online student, I remember telling my Ex-Fidenzata and I can live anywhere where the internet is a good connection. I recall he talked me out of moving then saying I could afford it later. I never did see that day come around. And now my problems have corrected themselves while I was away.

     It really is a dream situation I found myself in since I am a person who loves to avoid conflict. I wasn’t even there to bring things to a head. The first day I was gone things fixed themselves. The good man, showed a darker, less reliable side. The house did not drive me into debt while I was gone, but instead was emptied in a month and a half by my caring family.

     And I was happily insulated by being in Italy and Wales. Wales was interesting since some of the things I truly believe in turned out to be true there. I found out that we are products of our environment. Years ago my uncle brought us a long list of our family pedigree on my dad’s side. We Hughes were in Wales going back to King Arthur’s time.

     And while I was there in Wales, I had the best time. My skin grew milkier and fresh looking like my relatives there. My thinking was very clear. It really seemed the whole package of eating the nutrition of my forefathers and being in whatever weather my body is bred for seemed to make me healthier. My hair was soft and silky. My eyes were white and clear all the time. My body loved Wales and the food there. (My nose did not though, my CA side protested the chill by perpetually having a runny nose!).

      The lush green atmosphere seemed so wet that sometimes I felt like I did when I went swimming for too many days in a row in Santa Cruz at the beaches during the summer. I had a happy waterlogged feeling. Because of the daily heavy rains, Spencer and I were saturated in TV time and indoor activities and computer time and lovely Sunday dinners and family time.

     In Wales, I understood everyone’s humor since it was my own and my family’s. I had no idea that our sense of humor was part of the Welsh sense of humor until I got to experience it first hand. The self deprecating humor was classic Welsh fun. Everything on TV that was local Welsh programming almost resonated with me in a deeper sense. I suppose that it was like being immersed in your home culture and being rather surprised to find that you even had one at all.

     Then there were the moving church experience…I never walked into any churches in Wales. The outside was enough to make me really feel peaceful and at home. I had the sensation, more then once, that my ancestors were reaching out and giving me a hug from another time. I especially enjoyed the cemeteries. Being in a lovely green Welsh cemetery felt oddly like coming home.

     And the humor of the Welsh extended to more then the family I was staying with in South Wales but also included their friends. I was slow on the uptake due to the big difference in accents, but the Welsh friends were so funny and so easy for me to understand. The keen use of words with many different meanings belied a complex and intelligent humor that cracked me up sometimes 10 minutes after the joke had been said. It was like the Thanksgivings of my childhood in California. The same sense of humor was preserved all the way in Oakland, decades after my family had left Wales.

    When I see Spencer and I on this trip, I see that we also transformed over the time we were abroad. When I was in tourist mode while here the first two weeks in Italy before Easter, I was in my element, getting to finally use all my Italian and hear it spoken in the Florentine dialect that is probably what my text book was based on, thanks to Dante. I was a scholar, working hard at my classes even while I had very little access to the internet while in Rome, I diligently turned in assignments.

     While I was in Wales, I scored really well on a mid term and was pulling a B or better in all my classes, even though I had to hire an online proctor to turn in my other midterm on time. I was still harboring hope that my Ex-fiance would come to his senses and become normal again, even while he moved out with a female co-worker and broke into my accounts to read my private emails with friends and family.

     In the end it was easy to outgrow the urge to wind up with him or my classes in tact.

     When I moved to this lovely rural village, I found that a lack of internet would give me a level of schoolwork that would be seriously below my standards. I am not accustomed to doing my work in the hour a day method. I would never be able to read my assignments and watch all the videos necessary to finish my classes with 2 hours a day of internet to share amongst all of my classes.

     I opted for immersion instead in Italian, which was the whole reason I came to Europe anyway. And the urge to connect at all with the boyfriend faded away with my schoolwork. All of it seemed to slip away and I have become so happy and strong here in Italy that I can’t imagine a situation that will make me weak again. I have missed trains with an 11 year old counting on me and survived. I have lived without a car and access to the internet and Jon Stewart, as well as my politics for months now.

     We, as a team, have figured out many airports and complex ticket situations, (like Heathrow, trading our seats to window seats and next to each other was Spencer’s brilliance!), as well as figuring out bus and train tickets in Italian! I can text message and be involved in complex conversations in Italian. Spencer understands a lot of Italian and I think my comprehension has gone through the roof compared to when I first got to this lovely Italian mountain town a month ago.

     I think I am a stronger, more interesting version of who I was, even in Wales. I think Spencer and I will figure out where we are living with ease in the states when we return in a week and a half. It can’t be harder to rebuild my life there where I understand all the conversation. When I compare it to negotiating a missed train on the Bologna train station platform, life at home sounds easy, no matter what complications I face.

     Oddly, I feel as if I have had all of my dreams come true. I was built for this kind of daily excitement. I love not being able to use the words I am used to but instead struggling for an appropriate word that is close enough in another language. And having no idea what is going to happen next suits me.

      Yesterday I finished and turned in the lovely white linen altar cloth I made for the church here. I only worked on it when I was feeling happy and appreciative since it was going to the church and since it represented my appreciation for the church and the people here. I was nervous though. I had not pulled out the single thread like they had showed me. I had indeed added the lace I liked for the 2 side sections. I had ironed it 6 times, for a look I thought was perfect. While working on it, I carried around a laundry basket that was piled high with metres of snowy white linen that looked like clouds to me. Other ladies kindly asked me if I wanted to use their machines but I insisted on doing it by hand, since it was my idea of an offering.

     When I showed my Sweet Barkeeper friend, she assured me that it was time to take it in to the church and that afternoon Mass was over. I rushed over with my heart pounding. I had a hard time with my comprehension in the church, I never seemed to understand what was being discussed and it gave me the sensation I had done something wrong.

     Instead I was greeted with affection and appreciation. They liked my work! They were grateful! I needn’t have worried at all. I almost had bought Spencer and I tickets to Rome thinking that it was my responsibility to try to find and buy the red lace they showed me that could only be purchased near the Vatican. In fact they had been showing me what they would sew to it in time for Pentecost. I was so relieved. I have no idea when Pentecost is but my part is done and it was done well. They said they will get me a picture of the final product.

     I think that is the way I am doing things from now on. I learned with that project to trust myself and just do the best I can. And that is what I plan on doing in my future. I trust I will iron out my problems with my school, find a way to support myself, and live happily in the here and now. If I could figure out this trip…I can figure out anything I have waiting for me at home!

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