I was poking around my draft folder and I found this unpublished post from 2010. Given the paucity of my postings these days, I am going to post it.
This was written on the the plane during my first trip to Italy, six years ago. The most amazing thing to me about this post is that I had no idea what I was in for. I had no idea that Italy would strike my heart with Cupid's biggest arrow and that I would do everything in my power over the ensuing six years to return to my great love. Hah. Newbie.
AUGUST 16, 2010 - I took a long lunch the other day and went to the AAA office to get an extra pack of Euros for my journey abroad. While I stood on line, so many things went through my head. I thought about how travel is the greatest privilege that we can possibly enjoy. How traveling anywhere at all is so fascinating and exciting to me that I feel I might explode with happiness. As I waited for my Euros, that happy feeling was off the charts.
This was a first for me. Despite a searing case of wanderlust, I had never been out of the country before. Well, that’s not exactly true. I’d been to the Caribbean and to Canada, but that was all before a passport was required. So when I shuffled into the Post Office with my passport application at the ripe old age of 45, I definitely felt a little . . .behind the curve.
I can’t remember a time in my adult life that I did not have a strong desire to travel to Europe. During my 1980’s, post punk, purple hair phase, I desperately wanted to go to London. The fashion, the music and the nightlife were a very strong pull for me. At the time I was a 19 year old hairdresser without a penny to my name. I could barely afford to cover the insurance on my car. The car itself was a perfect reflection of my financial situation – rotten and in a downward spiral of deterioration. It was a maroon, 1976 Plymouth Duster with so much body rust that I could see the road spinning by under my feet like the wheels of a slot machine. The only good thing about that was that when it stalled, and it stalled a lot, I always had the option to put my feet down and power it Fred Flintstone style.
Ever since I was a teenager, I have loved to cook. When I got into my 20’s I started getting more serious about it. I voraciously read every cookbook that I could get my hands on and watched all the cooking shows on Public Television. Once in my late 20’s and early 30’s, the Internet had been born as had the Food Network, further fueling my decade of culinary awakening. All of that research made me yearn to go to France. I wanted to drink wine at a café near the Eiffel Tower, to eat a crunchy, flaky, perfectly prepared croissant, to learn about French cheeses. Even though I had a much better job and had gotten married, the demands of my job, my schooling and our money pit of a house popped a hole in my French daydreams.
All throughout this time in my life, my father was visiting Europe every couple of years. Most of his trips were focused on Italy or included Italy in some way. With each trip, it was clear that the place that he felt the most connected to was Italy. He would come back with stories of its beauty, its history, its wine and food and even of finding long lost cousins. Eventually, through his stories, I no longer wanted to see Europe, I craved, desired and burned to go to Italy.
This evening, the wheels went up on an A330 Airbus bound for Fiumicino airport in Rome, and amazingly to me, I'm on it. As I write this, my son is in the seat next to me, my husband and daughter are one row back. I don't know what the next two weeks will bring, but I do know that other than a rent a car and our accommodations, there are no concrete plans and interestingly enough, no fear of any kind. We have made an agreement to take this trip on Louis and Clark style, minus Sacajawea. We will be our own guides.
Yes, I was a 45 year old passport virgin. Yes, it’s going to be as hot as the devil’s testes in Rome in August. No, I don’t speak a word of Italian. But I have waited for this trip for so long that no amount of humiliation, sweat or linguistic frustration is going to hold me back. I’m coming for you fair Italia and you’d better be ready ‘cause imma make it count.
Postscript (8/10/15): And I did.
Postscript (8/10/15): And I did.