Monday, January 16, 2012

The Reality Hits

     I've been packing. Hell, I think I'm DONE packing. I have packed every article of clothing fit for layering, mixing and matching, cold weather, and mild weather that I own and like. I have shoes of all requisite types in neutral and black. I have lined my suitcase with my ever-necessary hair supplies, from heavyweight conditioner to John Frieda hair cream. I have armed myself with toiletries of all kind, having been told scary stories of off-brand tampons and thirteen-dollar deodorants. I feel prepared materially. I am prepared materially. It's only too bad I can't pack extra stores of confidence, psychological readiness, and linguistic brilliance.
     My packing has been hyper-organized, revealing either a new kind of obsessiveness for me or--more likely--exactly how mentally unready I feel for this adventure. I think I must be thinking that if I prepare for every physical need, my psyche will just take care of itself. I don't think I realize yet that such a method only weighs down my bags, whilst taking no weight from my mind. I further know that the only thing that will help is to go, to land in Italy and face my fears of not understanding the rapid-fire words of a train porter, of embarrassing myself when I try to sit to down with my coffee (Italians drink it standing, quickly, then move on) without buying something else, of getting myself lost in the twisty streets of Padova without my trusty iPhone to guide me back on track with its comforting, blinking blue dot. I'm afraid, and I know it, and packing the kitchen sink won't help me. I'm going to zip up my suitcases, and hopefully doing so will force me to calm down, to take a deep breath, and realize that I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be.
The biggest of the three suitcases--and still under 50 pounds!

Yes, that is a penguin. Its name is Momo, and it's been with me since I went off to boarding school. It's only fitting that it accompany me to Padova.
And a carry-on, with about a week's worth of clothes in case my bags are lost in transit.
     I've also been checking compulsively for days to see if my homestay assignment had yet landed in my inbox; I knew the news--coming from Italy with quite a time difference--would likely come overnight, but I still checked not only when I woke up, but also after I showered, maybe after I ate, maybe sometime midafternoon, maybe a couple other times... I was maybe a crazy person. I'm not sure why it was so important to me, but I guess nothing felt real until I could pinpoint my home--una casa padovana to go with una vita padovana.
     And today, around 8:00 AM, my freaking dog started barking at the top of its powerful doggy lungs, and I awoke with a start. And rolled over. And checked my email on the laptop I'd fallen asleep next to. Lo and behold, I will not be homeless in Padova. Far from it, it seems: my host is an Italian mother whose son has recently come to America, leaving her with a "spacious and comfortable" vacant room, who owns a bistro in town, and apparently co-habitates with a cat and a "small, non-poisonous snake."
     I'm quite literally thrilled. Giddy. Whatever. Knowing that I have a place to live, a room to call my own, a snake and a cat and a woman to befriend truly comforts me. I feel like I can slow down now. I know that even if I do spill espresso on my coat trying to drink it in a rush, even if I do tip the wrong amount, even if occasionally I just have to nod and smile and pretend I understand when I'm really confused and turned around, I'll have a home to go to. A bed to sleep in. A place to read and study and rest and unwind from the beautiful, stressful excitement that surely awaits me.
     What a day for the news to come, too; I leave tomorrow for Boston, and a week later from Boston to NYC, and from NYC to Frankfurt, and from Frankfurt to Venice, and from Venice to Padova. My trip is long, my way is weary, and my bags are heavy, but on the 26th I will land in Padova, greet my host Anna, move into her house, and begin a whole new life. A life for which I'm ready. 


  1. Commenting via iPhone is a fail must be the 3rd time I'm trying this but here I go... My tiny and squishy Mary do not fret jus keep swimming! You are super awesome and are way ready for this new adventure and you know it! Don't stress so much and enjoy the weather regardless <3 -WL

  2. FYI you can find John Frieda products at the big Acqua e Sapone on via Roma! That's also the only place I could find Q-Tips. AZ Ricerca was also my favorite toothpaste. Tell Elisabetta and Bonnie that I say hi! :)