Monday, May 26, 2008

Life: Shutdown

Tomorrow morning afternoon Erin and I leave for Milan, where we will couch surf until Thursday when we fly back to the US. This will be my last post from Italy, short and sweet.

A Week of Lasts
The past few weeks have been filled with lasts. From practical things like the last tube of toothpaste, last bar of soap, and the last bottle of olive oil, to the more personal things like our last trip outside of the city and our last dinner with some Italian friends. Now it's come down to the more sentimental things, like our last walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo (5:20am this morning), last passeggiata (stroll) along the Arrno River, and finally ending with our last caffè in the city on our last walk to the Santa Maria Novella train station tomorrow morning. It's a sad thought accentuated by the cool breeze coming through my window, which is carrying both the sound of the bells from the Basilica di San Lorenzo and the refreshing smell of jasmine.

Subtle Inspiration
I've looked out my window at this same sky for almost a year and not once have I felt the slightest bit bored of seeing it. Over the time it really hasn't changed all that much. The sun is out much longer, sure, but the sunsets are no more or less brilliant now than they were two, three, or seven months ago. Apart from the hours of light perhaps the only difference is that now the sky is full of swifts in the mornings and evenings. These birds seem so happy and energetic all the time, it's invigorating to just see them. Hearing them is funny as well, and I've been waking up to the sounds of their making laps as they pass by our bedroom window. I've never been to a nascar race, but the image I have of them reminds me of the swifts. They fly so fast in these random elliptical patterns, squealing almost the entire time. As they pass within about 3 yards of the window their happy noises rapidly go from kind of quiet, to really loud, to kind of quiet again. From my perspective it seems like the natural thing to do, if you're a bird. I mean why not pass your days zipping in and out of the marvelous splendors that make up Florence?

The Question to Persist
The journey home to St. Augustine will be a long one, much longer than usual. It's not the trains, planes, or the interstate that will be so rigorous, but rather the spiritual and emotional journey. Usually the idea of home is an emotionally well-defined idiom, but these days it's not so defined for me. Florence has become another home and leaving will cut just as leaving St. Augustine did. I know that we will return at some point, I'm just not sure of how, when, or where. Fortunately those questions are more details than they are questions, which is relieving because I (as usual) have so many in my head at the moment. There is one left to answer that I believe to be the most pivotal, and is certainly the most clearly defined.

The question is this: In the context of entire my life, what does this experience mean? What role does it play? Of course I don't have an answer, and it's not one I believe should have an empirical one. Over the course of my life I suspect that I will answer this question many times, each time with a bit more perspective than the last.


'A Tuscan view.....from Umbria' said...

Of course you don't have an answer. No-one has an answer, and that's what is so great about the journey. But the role it plays is obvious. It makes you just like the swifts; full of happiness and energy as you do your laps, wherever they may take you...

Tim said...

Welcome back to FL! I'll actually be heading down to St. Augustine to visit USA campus tomorrow (Friday). I'd love to meet up if you're free and don't feel too tired from all that traveling. Do you still have the same cell number?