I'm okay, really.
I have days where everything seems pretty good, actually, and sure I tear up when someone says, "Dimmi" ("tell me"—what Gianni would always say when I approached the bar) or when Keith hands me a spritz, but mostly I feel sort of normal. Upbeat, even.
And then there are the other days. Days when I just feel joyless. Like my life is a shackle around me, something to be bear with, rather than celebrate. On those days, the only thing that brings me any happiness is laundry. Laundry. Keith points out that that is the exact reverse of my life in Spello. Maybe that's what reverse culture shock really means.
The thing is, I feel like a spoiled brat even admitting that I'm struggling. Because I know it's the height of petulance to cry "Boo-boo, I had an idyllic, dreamy life for a year in central Italy, and now I'm living in my beautiful American house surrounded by fabulous friends and wonderful opportunities." Believe me, I know exactly how stupid that sounds. How exactly stupid that is.
But I can't help it. On those darker days, I just can't help it. I'm not actively longing for Spello, I'm not reminding myself of what I wish I had. On the contrary, I think I might be doing the opposite. I'm expending so much energy trying not to remember Spello, that it's taking up too much of my brainspace. I just feel deflated. A balloon with no air. And everything makes me cranky. Especially my children. I find myself seeing friends and really loving that, but nonetheless feeling edgy and distant and unable to make myself feel differently. The best that I can do is follow-up those flat gatherings with an email apologizing for my lackluster company. Luckily, I'm surrounded by marvelous people, and they tell me they are just glad to have me home.
I'm so lucky.
Why can't I feel it?
I had a run of bad days last week. Again, not missing anything in particular. Just swamped under a general feeling of being oddly stuck in a life that bristles where it should soothe. Which unexpectedly turned around when Paola sent me a photo she'd taken from outside Marcello's shop. It was a poster that Angelo had made of all of us at the farewell party.
It brought Light to my spirit.
In Spello, we all solidly knew that even though we were the crazy American family, we were their crazy American family. We belonged to them. And knowing that at some level we still do eased some of my grief.
Since then I felt a little easier. And even easier when I realized that Corpus Domini is June 22nd next year. After the children get out of school for the summer. Which means, if we play our financial cards right, maybe we can get to Spello for the Infiorata.
Allowing a connection, no matter how tenuous or imaginary, between me and my former life—it helps me feel that that life was real, vivid, and available. Living it again is over, but to know I can dip my toes in once more, refreshes the ache in my heart.