Ariella, in exchange for an undisclosed settlement, is graciously allowing me to abuse her forum for a few moments.
She has come to terms with this, I hope you all can too.
Two years ago, after three years spent living in Napoli, my family returned to the States.
It was supposed to be our last move. We were all looking forward to life back home, buying a house, the acquisition of (or by, depending on whom you ask) a dog, an end to cross cultural annoyances, and living closer to family.
The list of benefits seemed almost endless.
So, in the manner of highly mobile families, we began to settle in according to an effective and strategic plan.
A home was purchased; a puppy chosen; goods, services and libraries located; distances to family members clocked. We were situated in record time. Our last box was unpacked approximately 2 1/2 weeks after the moving trucks delivered. Severe ideological differences, among other things, have led us to decide Mr. Logo's current employer is not one with which we wish to continue our association. So we find ourselves in a terrifying, exciting and worrisome "transitional period."
Always a good time for looking back, yes?
I miss Naples.
I hated it,
but I miss it.
Not the stench of death, rot, decay, and smoldering trash.
Not the pollution, litter, abandoned pets and unsafe water.
Not the pickpockets, car jackers, beggars, thieves, mafia thugs and roadside whores.
Not the endless, senseless, bureaucratic bullshit.
Not the days of my life spent with two small children in sweltering, smoky, acrid sweat-scented, crowded lines.
Not the smug self-satisfied smirks that warned me I was about to be cheated.
Not the fear for the safety of my children when we were caught in anti-war/anti-american demonstrations.
But oh... there are so many moments.
When Lena called me, on 9/11, and despite her limited English and my limited Italian friendship found a way to speak.
When Enzo, eyes lit with mischief, taught me to properly pronounce every dirty Italian word he could think of.
When Stefano, a 9 year old in my English class (after overhearing me talk with a friend) proceeded to call everyone "doooood" for weeks.
When Annalia and her family, who practically adopted the boys and I, pronounced me "simpatico".
When Rosa taught me to make limoncello according to HER family's recipe, the "right" way.
When I called my sister from the middle of the Spanish Steps just to say, I'm here, oh my god, I'm really here.
When my friend Don drove over 2 hours to return my kids and I to our home when my car was stolen stranding us.
When my friend Holly and I wandered from our tour group and spent an afternoon in the most dangerous part of Napoli being shepherded by a charming bar keeper and his very caretaking mother.
I miss my American friends who were there with me. There was a sense of family, immediately. If you needed a car, they loaned it. If you needed an emergency sitter, you had one. These were the friends who call to say, "I haven't seen or heard from you in a while, are you ok?" And they usually know when fine means fine, and when it means, Aw, I'm a mess, I can't talk about it right now." The ones who say, "When is the last time you got out without the kids? Bring them over this afternoon and go do something."
I miss my Italian friends who opened their hearts, and doors. They taught me their tongue, tried to teach me their mindset, and loved my children.
I miss driving daily past amphitheatres that predate Christ on roads that are older than my country.
I miss buying lemons, oranges, eggplants, and tomatoes picked the day before.
I miss taking my kids to play in a castle built by the king who sent Columbus to the New World.
I miss driving unbelievably twisty roads on the Amalfi coast to tiny villages with superb caffe and views of the Med that take the breath away.
I miss driving 100 MPH and feeling a part of the rhythm of the wild, insane ballet that is driving in southern Italy.
I miss going to Rome and knowing on any given day in less than three hours I could be standing in the Sistine chapel.
I miss going to The Blue Moon ristorante, or stopping by Panda pizza on my way home. Ahhhh, Cerbero Pizza.
Lord have mercy, I miss the food, the long, delicious meal with wonderful cheap wine, the tiramisu, the gelato, the pasta, the mozzarella di bufala, the cornetti, the limoncello, the caffe, I must run and fetch a towel, I am drooling. So, so good.
I returned to my much beloved home and family with such relief. Flooded with joy at the smallest things, shopping without converting currency in my head, speaking the language with perfect fluency, being able to roll down a car window without gagging on the smell, not worrying constantly about car doors being locked, and having to count my change at every store.
But its not what I could wish it to be, not at all.
I think it is possible I have developed a touch of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
My mom's deteriorating mental health is painful to watch.
The list could go and become even bleaker.
But...I am where I love to be, with the people I love.
And really, is there anything better?