I have decided to stay in Sicily for the time being. Not forever, but indefinitely.
Some of you may think this is old news. Actually, it’s not. I may have suggested the possibility, but I honestly wasn’t sure. The decision was agonizing. I was depressed. I wasn’t walking, wasn’t practicing yoga, wasn’t even stretching. I was contracting. Literally and figuratively. I was sleeping a LOT: long nights and daily naps. Eating everything, including, of course, gelato and cannoli. Just so much to consider… bills to pay, struggles with AT&T, job opportunities, health insurance…
My visa technically expires June 1. I thought it was June 15. At the moment, I can’t get an extension. Italy is on track to open up. The trains are running regularly. On Monday, shops will open as well. June 1st, more restaurants will be serving the local delights.
Meanwhile, I went shopping today. People are wearing masks. The lines for groceries are no longer unruly. For the most part, people keep the respected distance. Small children ride their bikes alongside a parent. Dogs run freely and stray cats are multiplying. People seem jaunty. The community is smiling.
Who knows what will happen tomorrow. What will happen next week. The future, more than ever, is a mystery.
I tend to overthink things. At least, BIG things. Deciding to stay in a foreign country during a worldwide pandemic seems like one of those things that deserves extra consideration. What if overstaying meant I wasn’t allowed back? When? Well, … later. Like, next year… The absurdity of that thought finally made me laugh.
Next year? No one knows what is happening next week, let alone next year.
I simply cannot bring myself to purchase a plane ticket right now. I cannot see myself in an airport two weeks from today.
So today I bought bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body gel, and hand soap. A bit of a commitment, moving up from travel size and whatever came with my Airbnb. I’ll probably leave before the bottles are empty. Or maybe not.
I also bought flowers, another plant of purple blossoms. And feeling amazingly calm and happy, I circled back, laden down with bags hung on my shoulders and occupying my hands, and… I bought myself a single cannolo.
Right now, this is all I need. Me looking out at the sea. Sitting on my balcony in Sicily. Drinking Italian coffee and enjoying sweetened fresh ricotta cheese. Right now, this is everything.
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thoughts, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing. – T. S. Eliot, East Coker (#2 of the Four Quartets)
Hope and fear is a feeling with two sides. As long as there’s one, there’s always the other. This is the root of our pain.… In a nontheistic state of mind, abandoning hope is an affirmation, the beginning of the beginning. – Pema Chodrin, When Things Fall Apart