I have returned.
It doesn’t seem normal to me to walk down the streets of Milano empty-handed. So in short order I have ducked into PAM for provisions. I walked into the wrong door…alarms blazing. Sono stata io — it was me, I explain to the guard. (Darn jet lag).
He nodded his head and told me not to worry. Non preoccuparSi.
I grab not one but four scatole di polenta, some chocolate euros for Chanukah, i pistacchi and hand over my cash. Ah, normale. I feel normal now, carting my heavy black bag on my shoulder. I am weighed down on one side, walking on the street stones.
This is normal.
I make a mental note to myself…do I need escarole? Berries? Più di caffe — more coffee? Wait — I don’t have an apartment. I don’t have a kitchen. I have a hotel room, a mostly empty suitcase (except now for polenta – ha!) and an opportunity.
An opportunity to go home again.
I stop into my old haunts. I am greeted by “Sei tornata! You have returned!” And embraces. And — “where is your cane?”
I smile and tell folks that “ho un fianco nuovo — i have a new hip. Titanio!”
This year I lost bone — and a joint. I lost some of my idealism. I lost more. I gained titanium. I gained a kind of focus. A daughter-in-law. (Sono una suocera!) I gained more. I closed my eyes and woke up — finding myself floating in a different part of the river.
Since I have been gone — and it is not that long — one has a year-old baby and is seven months’ pregnant with her second. Wow. There are a million more Japanese and Hamburger restaurants than when we left. Truly a million. The trend is shocking. (Secondo me). Seriously, what is it with the Northern Italians and sushi — and hamburgers?
So now I am walking down the street delighted that my language is returning. I am talking to myself in Italian while I walk. Not unusual for me to walk and speak to myself in another language…but usually that language is self-deception.
We have dinner with friends. And near midnight — mezzanotte — we are on the #10 tram, my favorite with its old and polished wood, heading back.
When it is time for me to leave this world…I want to be collected by angels on a #10 tram and to ride it through the sky, through eternity.