Sunday, May 10, 2009


I have arrived at my destination for the next three days. I feel peaceful at this moment with much activity happening around me. Eric dropped me off at Reagan International airport and hurried back to listen to Maya's concert and record it for me. Everything was so easy, it felt as if this was meant to be. I flew to Chicago and then boarded a plane to Rome. It was a free (frequent flyer) ticket so I was not fussy about the route. I slept across the Atlantic and woke up at Fiumicino. I found myself almost sleepwalking to the train station where the train was late, which is never a surprise here in Italy. This is a familiar place for me. Cappucino at the bar, throngs of travelers, poppies along the side of the tracks, pine trees, controlled chaos at the main train station, missing my train to Frascati, unable to resist a huge gelato for lunch. I wandered around Termini watching people of all sorts, listened to many languages but mostly Italian, walked out into the sunshine, and wandered back to find my train. Much like the Harry Potter movies, the platform or 'binario 15' appeared to be nonexistent, until it materialized in between 14 and 16 far into the distance.

It is Mother's Day today. There are all sorts of reasons for this journey. This is a yearly pilgrimage for me. My sister Karen had a home in Tuscany for years. I brought Tara there when she was a few months old. She learned to crawl on the floor of Poggio Ventoso. We visited the hill towns near Montemassi and explored every Etruscan ruin in the vicinity. Florence and Siena were regular daytrips and the beach at Castiglione della Pescaia beckoned all summer. We came each summer and sometimes during hunting season in the fall,when the 'cacciatore' shot at everything that moved, but were looking for 'cinghiale' or wild boar. Poggio Ventoso was surrounded by olive groves, and the olive oil produced each year was tasty enough to drink alone. I would return home with a bottle each year, and use it sparingly to last me until my next visit. I came here with Tara and Maya to plan my wedding. We spent days on the patio or on the beach pouring over texts and choosing readings for the ceremony. Eric came with us that time, but did not participate in the planning. I think he had a conference to go to up north. I do not remember him being a part of my yearly sojourn in Italy. I wanted to show him this magical place and I think he 'got it' but I wonder if he understand how compelling it is for me. My sister and her husband Friedrich sold the place soon after that visit, and we have all shed many tears over the loss. Poggio Ventoso was not just a place, it held our hearts and our dreams and I find myself in tears as I write this now.

We usually flew to Rome and either rented a car or took the train to Grossetto. Sometimes we would fly into Milan or Munich and drive down, speeding through the Appenines in a tiny tiny Fiat. I remember how tired I would be after flying through the night, rarely sleeping because Tara would want to explore the plane and watch movies and she refused to sleep because it was all too exciting until we got into the car and on the way to Poggio Ventoso. Finally, exhausted, she would close her eyes and I would fight to stay awake for the two hours to Karen's place. I would stop at Talamone, or sometimes on the beach along the way. We passed a park with a collection of statues created by the artist Niki San Phalle, which were enchanting and fun for children, but Tara would often be asleep when we drove by and I would slow down and try to make out the colourful designs from the road and drive on.

When we came that summer before my wedding in 2001, the trip to Italy had been planned long before the wedding date was decided on. I had wanted to show Eric the place I loved most. We flew into Venice, stayed near St. Mark's Square, drove to Florence and Siena and settled at Karen's. I have made it back to Italy at least a few days each year, however it is unlikely I will return for a few years. Ecuador is far from Italy, and we will not have the means to visit for some time.

Meanwhile I will enjoy my three days. The sun is shining and Sunday brings everyone out on the streets. Once settled in my little palace hotel in Grottaferrata near Rome, I headed for Frascati for a few hours, wandering through all the tiny streets and visiting all the churches. Gradually the entire city emptied out into the main squares and walked and played and ate gelati. I suspect that people from the surrounding towns and perhaps even from Rome came to visit, the streets were so crowded. I had little energy earlier in the day, but now that it is late I am finding myself more and more awake, which is not good as far as adjusting to the time. I wanted space and time to think and reflect and make some decisions. I realize i did not have to go so far to do so, but now that I am here I plan to enjoy every moment and everything that Rome has to offer.

Oh yes, and every moment I am aware this is Mother's Day. I miss my daughters and wish they were here with me. I thought it would be fun to take a break from them for this special day, but now that I have stopped moving I miss them more.

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