Casa Dolce Casa….Home sweet home. I’ve been back in the “oosa” for one week. It’s taken me this long to overcome feeling disoriented, time-warped, and jet-lagged. It took at least two days to stop trying to speak to people in Italian and use hand gestures to back up my attempts to communicate. I finally got decent sleep and my dreams are now all in English again, which means I think I might finally be getting back in to my groove.
On the flight to Rome, I could look out my window and see majestic snow-white covered alps below that made me excited and curious and eager as to what was to come. My month was filled with the unexpected. There were many challenges, but it was all balanced out by the beauty of the landscape and the serenity at the villa.
Four weeks that required me to put my expectations in my back pockets and surrender to the will of life and the way things are decidedly different in Italy. Whatever you think is going to happen, well, just stop thinking that way. If you believe you have something figured out… don’t count on it. If you have an agenda, well, probably better to just drop it. Challenges and questions and confusion as a tourist were there to greet me each day. That can get pretty exhausting. But other things were there to greet me each day as well… the friendly people, quaint villages built on ancient stones, bells ringing, kitty cats practicing dolce far niente everywhere, sheep crossing, and the delicious food and vino. The sweet Italian birds chirped me awake every morning and I’d soak up views of the enchanting Tuscan hills from every side of the villa. Venturing out on day trips and getting lost and finding the way back in the dark under a billion brilliant stars above was always part of the adventure. Getting home successfully each night felt like an accomplishment, and Podere Palazzo (which translates to Farm Palace), truly served as a sanctuary for everyone who stayed there. It was a perfect place to write, meditate, paint, sketch, drink, relax and just be part of the changing season. I arrived as part of the fade out of winter… and left during the blossoming of spring.
When I was flying in last weekend and saw Atlanta below, tears came to my eyes. It felt like I’d been away for about six months. Time away can give a perspective not anticipated. And then there is the culture shock and re-entry incidents of course. Never mind that on the way home from the airport I saw three cops chasing a suspect down Freedom Parkway with several patrol cars going off-road to find this person that ran right past our moving car. Never mind that my A/C has been broken, or that my iPhone died and had to be replaced yet again, or realizing that my flat-iron was fried from an Italian outlet, or even that someone slashed my tire when I was out in mid-town for drinks on Thursday night with friends. Nope. Never mind. Italy taught me to let go of some things that would normally upset me. I’m home. As “ghetto” as it feels as a culture change in Atlanta, I’m happy to see the beautiful spring blossoming all around me here as well. The birds are chirping me awake in the mornings and I can hear church bells ringing every day at noon.
I’ve come home to a welcoming sunflower bouquet, friends eager to see photos and leaving me welcome home signs at my studio… lovely notes from others who want to make sure I’m home okay. All of those things trump anything that may have made me feel like a stranger coming back last Saturday night. I even cried when I stepped back into my studio again this week because I saw my work with fresh eyes and what I saw in my own paintings felt so comforting and beautiful- it overwhelmed my senses. This week has been important in that I’m settling back in and seeing everything around me in a new way. I’m getting centered and I am eager to get my ideas from my month long residency worked out in the studio come Monday and continue putting beauty out there. I have a solo show to continue getting ready for and am eager to get messy with my paints!
I’m just as curious as you are dear readers to find out what will come from my month abroad… the lessons, the confusion, the growth, the peace, and the beauty should all make for some delicious new paintings and you can bet will be in my book that is finally coming along! I’m grateful to have had my month in Italy and I’m grateful to have made it home safe.