My time in Italy is almost over. Two more nights and we’ll be on the road again, driving back north. When I leave Tuscany I’ll leave a piece of myself behind – a bigger, more personal piece than the ones I’ve parted with before. When people ask me about my favourite journey I tend to go quiet or look at them with big eyes. Head crooked to one side, I think about this question each time it comes up, yet still I never find an answer. I don’t think I ever will. But this time was special.
In Tuscany, I found something I didn’t think I would find – something I still can’t name or grasp in its entity, but something that’s been deep inside of me all along while I was out there, searching for it in distant places, friends, and strangers. I felt it when I looked in the eyes of the people around me, wonderful strangers who turned into friends. I felt it when we sat around the table, arguing passionately about life and religion and the chicken and the egg. I felt it when I sat on the balcony in front of La Rocca, listening to the songs of the birds and watching the leaves change colours. I felt it when we drank too much wine and sat by the fire, playing Carrom on the big wooden board that hung on the wall next to the open fire place in Vallebona. I felt it during the walks with Shari and Taggi, as we strode and danced through the fields where the grass grew wildly. I felt it as I fell into bed at night and my skin smelled like fresh air and sunshine.
When I look at myself in the mirror, my eyes are soft, and there is a glow on my face that I have never seen before. For the first time I feel like I understand what it means to be balanced. What it means to feel grounded. Enrooted not in a geographical place but in a state of mind. Sometimes I feel like I’m here and nowhere at the same time. Like a piece of the puzzle, a tiny pixel of the whole picture – insignificant on its own but essential nonetheless.
After being in Italy for almost two months, I realise that not everything is as easy-going as it might seem at first glance. I know that the people are working hard to sustain their lifestyles and that some of them are struggling too. But still there is a softness in their features, a passion for life that lights their eyes like the fireflies that dance through the night.
I still don’t know what exactly I want in life. I don’t know where I want to be in five years. I don’t know where I’ll be come the end of September. Maybe I’ll be back here. Because even though I’m leaving now this doesn’t feel like I’m writing the final words of this story yet. It feels like I am writing the opening lines to another beginning.