I’ll be honest, last week wasn’t a hugely positive one for me. Homesickness kicked in and, considering myself a blogger of the upmost integrity, I had written a post that tried hard to finish on a high, but that ultimately lamented my involuntary exile away from everything that I know and love. Here are the high (low?) lights for you, just so you don’t feel like you missed out on anything: no one here gets me and my English uptightness, there’s way too much needless bureaucracy and to say that the men here can be forward would be a gross insult to litotes. I was coming up to the month mark and was meant to be having the time of my life, but instead I was feeling more wake me up when October ends. So many of my friends have told me that they’re jealous of me, but I think what they mean is ‘I want to go on holiday to Italy’, not ‘I want to go and live alone in Italy’. It is a difference that I’ve felt quite acutely now that the honeymoon period is over, and I see what I’ve really signed on for.
I needed to reset my thinking, realign my chakras, if you’re into that sort of thing, and there’s something symbolic about the start of the month that makes it a whole lot easier. I suppose the start of the week will have to do.
Mondays never feel like Mondays to me because I don’t work – my luxurious lifestyle affords me Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays off. So I decided to hop on a train to Scilla, a picturesque little town along the Calabrian coastline. The weather was perfect (not quite as uncomfortably hot as it has been, but sitting nicely in the 20s), the sea was gorgeously clear and there was even a real life english couple sitting at the table next to me for lunch! I found listening to their chat about the best places to rent property in the area even more comforting than my octopus salad and seafood spaghetti – which, by the way, were delicious.
Scilla is linked by a little coastal tunnel to Chianalea – without a doubt my favourite year abroad discovery so far. Chianalea is the Italy of postcards, the kind of place that I want to show people when they visit. My Dad has never been to Italy before, but has often listened politely while I go on about how great it is. I had feared that, if all I could show him was the city centre, he might leave wondering what all the fuss was about. ‘No danger of that here’, I thought to myself as I lunched on a little deck over the sea, to the ditty of the waves lapping the rocks and cool wine filling glasses, making that delightful gentle glugging noise. Wandering through the narrow cobbled streets of this tiny harbour town, I felt like something out of La Pointe Courte (not least because the place seemed to be full of extremely good-natured cats). A gentle breeze bathed me in fresh salty air, but apart from that the town was perfectly still. Chianalea seemed to have mastered the calm that I was seeking.
Sitting on the beach writing this, I feel like that same calm is slowly ebbing back to me after a few days of agitation. I still feel a bit nervous about something, but there is something immensely therapeutic about the sea. I’ve learnt that the most important thing here is not to have expectations. There have been days where absolutely nothing has gone well. And then there are days like today, where everything is unexpectedly perfect. And that, to quote Gandalf, is an encouraging thought.