It was coming home. The feeling leading up to the trip, the anticipation on the plane, the thrill of joy when we clamored out of the Fiat and soaked in the churchbells, the leaping of my heart when I caught sight of Paola waiting in the street outside Bar Bonci.
I spend a vast proportion of my day guiding my children towards a Beautiful Center. I only now realize how much I should listen to my own admonishments.
Parent thyself, indeed.
It’s different here. Adults don’t look to connect with my children. Adults don’t look to connect with anyone’s children that aren’t related. Instead, other people’s children are often measuring sticks to hold up to our own.
Our culture is suffocatingly competitive. One parent’s school choice calls into question another parent’s decision. One child’s fabulous experience with judo suggests that soccer doesn’t teach important life skills. One child’s dyslexia is cause to self-congratulate one’s own child’s easy reading. One child’s life changing sleep-away camp encourages a sense that our own child lounging away the summer reading comic books is tantamount to writing off any future happiness. We’re always looking to know where we are on the ladder.
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. Keith points out that that is the exact reverse of my life in Spello. Maybe that’s what reverse culture shock really means.
This is what happens when you don’t have a microwave for a year, and neglect to re-instruct your child on the finer points of using this radioactive box of energy.
She may well explode your microwave.
She didn’t mean to. But really, who means to explode a microwave?
Spello is behind a veil. I sense her presence, I feel her heart, but for the most part, I push away the conscious awareness that she and I are divided. But there are times that I startle into realizing the global gap between us. More than just distance. Custom, habit, ritual, tradition. Sometimes those moments are quick and amusing, sometimes they spur a frisson of grief.
Here are some examples of things about life here that have stunned me since our return.
I’m getting my bearings the best I can, and the fact that I can write again is helpful. I will admit to having a minor anxiety attack in Five Guys yesterday. All of a sudden I started scoping out the exit, and Keith noticed this and directed everyone towards the door as “Mommy is getting that panicked look in her eyes.”