I love my life in Italy; it’s a magical adventure filled with wonder, many discoveries, and lots of beauty. School is a full and fantastic busy, and I have fabulous colleagues. Yet . . . my home will always be NYC.
Getting here was quite an adventure. I departed on the morning of December 20th, eager for an evening arrival home. Mamma’s cooking, cuddling with my cats, and seeing friends — a cozy, chill welcome. Instead, my flight from Genoa was cancelled. I was at the airport with several colleagues who were taking the same connecting flight to Munich before departing for our various destinations across the US. As we waited, we saw one of my students, his sister and father. They were on their way to LA.
DELAYED. We stared at the board and I grew more and more nervous as my connection in Munich was just over an hour. First a half hour delay, then an hour delay. Then it disappeared off the monitor. This was how they informed us that our flight was cancelled. We followed my students’ father outside security as he explained that this happened last week with the same flight. Mechanical difficulties. My student said, ‘They were spinning the propellar for an hour, then gave up.”
After an hour online to rebook our tickets, wondering if they could find us seats during the Christmas rush, we finally had our new connections. I was going to Munich at 5, then to Frankfurt where I’d sleep in a hotel and fly out the next morning. 17 hour delay. During this process, several other coworkers popped into the airport for Ryan Air flights to England. When Ryan Air is the reliable flight, you know you’re in trouble.
I was sad because I was supposed to land in NYC at 6pm that night, and possibly go out to meet some friends. But instead, I passed out exhausted in a really nice hotel room with light snow outside in Munich. It looked like the bed was comfortable until I went onto it and almost bounced off a la Clark Griswold in European Vacation.
To the airport early in the AM. Lufthansa was full so they rebooked me on United and the woman was kind and upgraded me to premium economy extra legroom seat. I didn’t realize until I boarded the plane and learned that these seats usually cost an extra $179 each way. Finally a break. I slept most of the flight, read a bit, and then flew over Brookside Swim Club, my old summer hangout where I worked, taught swim lessons, and was head lifeguard for many years. Now I go as a patron. My parents live very close, so I tried to spot the house, but couldn’t find it. I did see my high school, then the NYC skyline. Oh, how could I ever leave this great city? Only for a place as magnificent as Italy. I swear, New Yorkers have to be darned choosy when we take a post overseas. And there’s no where else I’d rather live in the states.
Groggy and sleepy, I showered for a tea party with family friends, then showered again to go to a dinner party. Halfway through the appetizers, it was 3:45am on my clock. I didn’t make it to dinner and was in bed soon after. On my way out of the city, I met up with a friend for quick drink and a fun reunion. I mentioned something about going home on January 5th, and he said, “This is home. You are going to Italy on January 5th.” Ahh, yes.
The following day, I chilled, went for a haircut and enjoyed my cats. On the 23rd, my parents and I took a train into Manhattan to see the decorations, the windows, and go to the Bryan Park Christmas Markets, a tradition my mom and I have done since 2007. This year, Dad joined. It was a beautiful sunny day, and it hurt my heart to see places that were so everday to me, so splendid . . .and knowing that soon I have to leave again until the summer.
Christmas Eve, I met up with two great friends for lunch in Ho-Ho-Kus. Turkey and Brie. mmm. Turkey! My brother joined the fam for dinner that night, and then it began snowing! Soon after, I drove to Fordham to sing with choir alumni in the beautiful Midnight Mass, a tradition that I have been doing since 2002 after I graduated.
Christmas Day, I woke up to a sunny, cozy morning, nursed a big coffee (can’t do that in Italy, although the flavor is much better) and opened a handful of gifts. It was a modest Christmas, but that is good because how much can I carry back anyway? And I got some nice things, including a Chi flat iron to play with. Also, I have a nice check which I decided to use for Spring Break. I’m taking suggestions. Where shall I go? So exciting.
It was so wonderful to be with the family, with everyone I love. It is very strange to live abroad, with people who are fast acquaintances and buddies, but you are away from your true friends and family. Your coworkers become your surrogate family — but it’s just not the same. Permanent expat life is so tempting, but this is the hard side. Being away. I don’t think I can stay forever. But the reunion was so nice and filled me with a warm glow. Content. I am blessed.
Merry Christmas. Buon Natale a tutti!
Here is a slideshow of my pictures in America so far.