I was once told that the word ‘serenissima’ loosely translated in Italian means “to find something that you unaware that you were looking for.” At the time it was a nice tidbit of trivia but the words didn’t really take on meaning until that pivotal break up between my high school sweetheart and I some 10 years after graduation. I guess you could say I had a love-hate thing for him and he, well, loved being a jerk to me… until the day I decided that I deserved better. Which by the way is always a decision that you must make for yourself or will never hold any water.
I left his sorry ass and re-enrolled in college and somehow by the stroke of luck and or God ended up in Florence, Italy. How life had changed so dramatically. I spent a few weeks living out adventure fantasies I’ve had since I was five or so. I visited ancient art galleries and sun soaked vineyards. I met an elderly man that like to urinate on the sidewalk in front of our abode every day around 3pm while wearing the same black and white striped knee socks and worn brown penny loafers. I found that Italian men must intently study ‘Joey’ on the old show “friend.” As it turns out getting 20 or more ‘sup’ nods in a day for voluptuous American women is normal and actually somewhat enjoyable for someone who grew up in a sexually repressed nation. Even the peddlers were pleasantly flirtatious and equally married.
It seemed like time had taken a break in trudging along for this villa but in the same instance leapt to present on occasion. I danced in nightclubs that stood in the shadow of the Duomo and dried (or rather bleached) my jeans on a high clothesline hung from a broken nail just outside my window, which had no screen. I awake to reminisce and remember the feeling of 95degree still Mediterranean heat. I can feel of the my hair sticking to my shoulders and the sweat beading down my neck and onto my brightly color ‘tourist’ clothing as the slight yet cool breeze danced down the jasmine draped aphotic alley and onto my skin, cool enough to chill. With all of the culture shock and kindly exuberant faces I gazed upon I began to let go of my overly American values and see that things really are not quite so black and white, neither right or wrong, red, white nor blue.
The thought that shocked me is that it was not really the architecture or art that I could see in that place, though all very impressive and equally moving. It was the way of life that the locals had, eating alfresco, small apartments, walking virtually everywhere, drinking tiny coffees, eating fresh local foods, and living in the shadows of all of this. I did not travel expecting a reveal or profound epiphany. I had not sent myself on a ‘trip of self discovery’ but for 10 days I ran away from my problems and life all while not realizing I was finding another one that is actually worth running towards. I had found something that I had no idea that I was looking for, nor any idea that I needed. I had found peace, hope, purpose, friendship, and even love in less that 2 weeks my life had changed forever.
Which brings me to the thought ‘Is it alright in life to run away from our problems if we are running toward something that seems to be a brighter shade of green? And as humans how can we tell these genuine pastures from the Hollywood version?’