13 July 2010

Reflections




From the age of two Los Angeles is where I was raised and lived, yet it never felt like my home. Until I began traveling abroad, I believed I had a midwesterner's heart because I desired a simpler, slower, and less transient lifestyle.  Not to say it doesn't exist in L.A., but what I sought didn't exist for me in L.A.  In fact, I've often thought I was born in the wrong era. Perhaps the Renaissance?  Lorenzo de' Medici is the person that comes to my mind when I think of that question that goes around the Internet: If you could have lunch with anyone, who would you choose?  However, lunch wouldn't be enough time to satisfy me. 

Don't get me wrong.  I love Los Angeles and California.  It's a gorgeous state, and both the city and state have much to offer.  Probably the best climate in the world can be found in various parts of California, and the state is like a country unto its own with the varying geologic and geographic terrain barely an hour away in any direction.

We are taught in the society within which we live what we are "supposed to" do, think, say, look like, dress like, feel, desire, achieve, and buy. Some of us (I) end up having internal conflicts over following our heart versus following what we were taught.  Operating more on emotion, spirit, and inspired action rather than rational, conventional thinking has been the result of my unorthodox life.  Depending on my perspective (it constantly vascilates), I can feel like I've missed out on so much, or I can feel gratitude for the freedom to take the risks I choose.  More often than I'd like to admit, my life feels lonely because the paths I take are less traveled.

Since a child, I have loved meeting people from other cultures and have had a ravenous appetite to learn about the people from other parts of the world.  In high school I used to watch the foreign exchange students in awe, desiring to be like one of them in a foreign land exploring and experiencing the differences and similarities of human beings, customs, and cultures.  Growing up in an unhappy household, there was a lack of guidance, direction, and support to branch out from mainstream conventionalism.

My brother used to tell me that at around the age of 18 to my early 20s is when I would figure out who I am and what I'm all about.  Am I retarded?  I'm still asking myself those questions and more.  For many years, I believed I wasn't even from this planet, that I'm some sort of alien.  Being painfully shy, socially inept, a misfit, clumsy, unloved by the ones I wanted to love me, I felt such deep solitude and loneliness.  (Only occasionally do I fall back into that state nowadays and not for long.  Not to worry.)  Everyone else in a group seemed to have a connection, but I wasn't connected.  I remember as a teenager, smoking dust and driving a car full of kids around, and my car and my body feeling like they were astroplaning (no, I don't mean hydroplaing), and parking and walking a few inches above the ground   I wasn't even connected to the earth.

Traveling Abroad:  It was a romance with a wonderful, special Dutchman that finally got me to Europe my first time in 1994. Before and after that first trip to Europe, trips were in the planning stages with friends.  They would flake for any number of reasons, excuses, and fears.  I quickly grew tired of waiting on others and not taking the trips I wanted and started taking responsibility for my own happiness and realizing my personal dreams.  It took only one trip abroad to learn how much I love traveling solo.  Sure, I enjoy having shared stories, memories, experiences, laughs, mishaps. And at the same time, traveling solo, the opportunity to meet the locals is so much greater.

Once I felt the earth under my feet in Europe, I realized I was honing in my home, and it's not the Midwest of the U.S. Before Italy, I didn't like to travel to the same place twice because there is so much to see in the world and wanted to see something I hadn't before seen.  That changed when I discovered Italy.  I know many people share this sentiment:  "I feel I belong here" or "I found home."  I hear people say it all too often.  Excuse me.  But there isn't room for all of America and England here.  Italy is my home.  Can we close the borders now and stop allowing into the country the expats that continue to come here since my arrival?  

I was especially impressed with Italy when I returned my second and subsequent trips.  To be chased down in Piazza Navona, Rome, where there are thousands of tourists 365 days a year, or a small village or in the streets of Florence and welcomed back in Italy and remembered where we met, when we met, what city I come from, and even coming close to remembering my name is damn impressive to me.  Even years later, I am still stopped in Florence by people I think I've never before seen that tell me "it's been three years last April" since they last saw me.  How do they remember when there are millions of us flooding their towns and cities every day, year after year?  But that is only a small piece of what impresses me about Italy and why I call it home.

I spent about five weeks living in a cupboard between our lease ending and my moving into my new, amazing home last Wednesday.  The temporary place started out fine but got harder daily at about week three and a half.  Tired of working on a stool, having one burner to cook with, a convection oven that looked brand new but didn't work, and a TV that also didn't work was the framework for a monastic five weeks. Joking that the most spacious part of my monolocale was the shower is barely an exaggeration.

Still finding my way, still asking myself some of those same questions, I know I've come a long way from who I used to be -- that shy, insecure person still pops her head out.  It's built into my DNA -- because I have the courage to act on inspiration (it comes from within, and I get more as I evolve).  I am proud of what I have achieved in such a short time and love the paths I currently travel.  The view is amazing.

-- Josslyn "Giosalina"
Firenze, Italia

1 comment:

  1. Very honest, Josslyn. Keep following your heart.

    ReplyDelete