It’s strangely fitting —proprio, one might say– that it’s pouring buckets during my last day in Civita. No need to venture out exploring; this initial expedition is complete.
Beginning yesterday at 3 nel pomeriggio, thunderheads blackened the sky to a shade so dark that the street lamps turned on, an eerie sight in the middle of the day. From my kitchen window I watched Giorgio, the construction foreman in charge of the renovation of the rear roof and façade of the church, as he scampered across the scaffolding, holding a feeble tarp over himself as he secured equipment against the howling wind and rain.
The weather kept the construction crew away this morning, much like the tourists and Manuela, who did not come up from Bagnoregio to open her osteria for lunch, much to my disappointment. I was hoping to say a proper goodbye, which I won’t be able to do tomorrow, since Tony and I are leaving in the morning for the train station.
In today’s notes, I began to step towards the conclusion of my experience in Civita, once again contemplating the concept of home as I prepare to leave Italy for America. In a certain light, perhaps it’s actually a gift not to be from Civita, or even to live here full-time, though I feel a strong desire to do so.
Remembering the moral of an essay that I posted just before leaving Seattle, it’s the blend of bitter with sweet that gives a richer and more pleasurable experience than a person finds only in one or the other. Perhaps the bitter side of knowing that this experience was temporary is what made each day in Civita so very sweet. Knowing that life is not like this everywhere is what evokes that deeply protective reverence in those of us who see its delicate existence as both rare and containing much potential.
When it comes to the concept of home, perhaps the point is not to select a single place of origin, but to hold the best parts of all my beloved cities –Civita, Verona, Venezia, Seattle, San Francisco, Montreal, Paris, NYC– together in the home of my heart. Perhaps becoming a citizen of the world is not about making a list, but building a legacy. It’s not about checking off each city that I visit, but about building a shared history: a network of meaningful experiences and relationships that span the globe.
For me, travel is not only about discovery, but ambassadorship. With each journey, I tend to come away thinking more about what we share as people underneath our foreign customs than about how foreign or divided those customs make us. When it’s possible to feel understood by people with whom I barely share a common tongue, the more hopeful I am about humans as a species.
Of course, earth-shattering revelations and instant relationship webs do not form overnight — or every night. As Americans, we want everything quickly or we become discouraged and give up. Amongst many lessons, Civita has also taught me that there is a time and a place for everything –including new places and friendships– which require space and time to develop at their own speed, in their own time, one by one.
Domani, io vado a Roma where I’ll rendezvous with José on Thursday, and the Rossi Doria famiglia on Wednesday or Friday. It’s one step toward feeling like a citizen of the world when I can walk into an ancient city and share tables with friends who live there.
At the end of this journey, I am pleased not only to find a changed view of the world and a deeper insight into the layers of Civita, but an enriched perception of myself. Living here has provided me with a heightened ability to observe life with sensitivity and intention, a more powerful lens with which to consider who I am, what I know –what I don’t– and What Happens Next.
Over the past two months, Civita has also tempered an unprecedented patience in me — and an intensified desire to continue my exploration of places and people at home and abroad.
After all, as a Citizen of the World, that’s my duty. And my privilege.