Tag Archives: Family

I have so much to tell you.

I don’t know where to begin. I’m finally home (for more than just a few hours!) for the first time in three weeks. In less than two, I’ll be in Cambodia.

My blog posts are still stuck in Italy, aren’t they? And yet, since then, we’ve been to:

  • Ft. Lauderdale
  • Whidbey Island
  • San Diego
  • Boston
  • Minneapolis
  • Port Chester
  • Flemington
  • Philadelphia
  • Seattle
  • San Diego
  • San Diego
  • San Diego
  • (sigh)
  • San Diego

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Going to the castle made me sad. Not because I didn’t have fun. I had a lovely time.

But I knew it was all going to be over soon. My aunt and uncle and cousin had to drive back to their village, and the next day we’d leave for the Amalfi coast. I’d be back again – I was sure of it (Rand had already declared it himself), but this trip to Frigento was winding to an end.

 

When I was a kid, I remember positively bawling when my aunt and uncle had to return to Italy. Whenever anyone came for a visit and then left. I’d desperately wish to be a grown-up, because they never seemed to cry at the end of a trip. I mistakenly assumed this was because goodbyes no longer made them sad.

But that isn’t the case. As an adult, you just get better at not collapsing into a heap of tears and snot. Most of the time, anyway.

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My family has trouble following directions. I’m not entirely sure if it’s a my family thing, or an Italian thing. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

 

Like their total disregard for warning signs. Is it a countrywide epidemic? Or is it just that my family is nuts?

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I suppose I should have warned Rand.

Rand, sitting with my great-aunt. He had absolutely no idea what was in store for him

 

Honestly, though, I thought he knew. That is why I didn’t lean over and whisper, “Pace yourself. There are four more courses to go.”

I mean, why else are they called primi and secondi? They are referring to courses. What they don’t really mention in Italian restaurants is that those are just the beginning.

There are also antipasti and contorni and insalate and dolci. There is wave after wave of food, eaten by ridiculously skinny people (don’t ask me how this works, because I haven’t cracked that part of the code. I can only assume that incorporating vigorous hand gestures into conversation burns crazy amounts of calories. So if I look like I’m trying to direct a plane the next time I’m engrossed in a polite chat, that’s why.)

In Italy, the midday meal (pranzo) is a sort of sprawling feast, lasting hours. It is the reason many of the shops in Italy are closed between noon and 3 pm. Because food is more important than Capitalism.

Come to think of it, that might as well be my family’s mantra.

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I wish I had taken more photos of the archaeologists in my aunt’s yard, but I was too busy marveling at the fact that there were archaeologists in my aunt’s yard. 

The archaeological site. Also pictured: my auntie’s dog.

She was completely used to it, of course.

Her village, my grandfather’s own, is ancient. I knew this. The area is full of artifacts and relics. Some 30 years ago, there was a major earthquake in the area, and the damage led to the discovery of even more treasures: a massive catacomb and a winding cistern underneath the village.

I’d been in them once, years ago.

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Me, talking to Marciano about his creations. Notice how much I use my hands when I speak Italian.

Yesterday, I may have exaggerated slightly when I said that I found my aunt’s home all by myself. I was caught up in the poetry of it, of the idea that I could wander the same ancient streets that my grandparents did, and find their loved ones’ homes without needing an ounce of help.

But that isn’t the entire story.

Marciano helped.

It was the morning after we’d arrived in Frigento. Marciano saw Rand and I walking outside our pensione and stopped us.

“Ma, voi a chi partiene?”

To whom do you belong?

In that question lies everything you need to know about life in this part of the world. That everyone here knows everyone else, and if a stranger wanders in, it is because they are connected. They belong to someone here.

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Not the green door we were looking for.

 

“What’s the address?” Rand asked.

I shrugged. “No idea.”

“Is it on this street?”

“I think so? The door is green.”

(I feel it pertinent to note that nearly half the doors in the village happened to also be green.)

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Our plane landed in Naples just as the sun started to set. Vesuvius loomed over the city as we sped out of town, the volcano turning deeper and deeper shades of purple in the fading light.

We were heading towards my grandfather’s village. I suppose it eventually became my grandmother’s village, too, after she married him and moved there. But I’d always regarded it as his. He was the one who was born there. He was the one who loved it there.

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