On the Meaning of "Home"
As I've settled into my new life here in Calabria, I've been pondering the meaning of the word "home."
I've deliberately avoided saying things like, "back home, we..." referring to California or the U.S. Because I have no home there anymore. It's jarring, really, to no longer have roots in the country where I lived for 44 years, nor the state where I lived for 12, or the place I grew up.
These places still form who I am, regardless of what is now my home.
Good Ole' Frances Mayes
Another reason I'm contemplating the concept of home is that I'm reading Frances Mayes' (she of Under the Tuscan Sun) newest book, A Place in the World: Finding the Meaning of Home.
Like everything she's written, I highly recommend this book.
In it, she flips between her home of 20+ years in Tuscany and her home in the South, where she grew up and still has a home. She brings in the past, as it of course impacts our concept of what home is. Her idea of home is peppered with recipes from her mother and memories of her childhood and family. For her, home is your accents that places where you're from. Ruins that mark the ancient history of a place. The food. The stories. The people you share it with.
I'm inclined to agree with her on all points.
Finding My New Home in Italy
Things are finally starting to flow here in Calabria. While I struggled a little over the last month (Mercury Retrograde did NOT help), things are finally starting to flow. After a month, I finally have internet! Woo hoo!
I know I have to be patient to fully settle into my life here, given I'm in a different culture. People are curious about me but not overly friendly at times. I'm slowly making friends and it feels so great when someone recognizes me in town and says ciao!
My Italian speaking skills are coming along. I speak fairly well, but all I see is how far I have to go to be truly fluent. To not have to interrupt a customer service rep who calls me to say, "Sorry, I'm American and don't speak Italian well. Could you speak more slowly?"
But then I have little interactions like I had in the store today. A woman asked me what I was doing here, and another cashier, one I'd spoken to before, stood up and told her my story (she's American and she moved here to live!). We ended up chatting about Calabrian food and different ways to prepare it. It's interactions like this that really help me grow.
I've set up my home to feel like me. I have my art on the walls and little personal touches that connect me to my past. I've got pics of my son on my fridge, and my cats are always sunning themselves on the patio.
This. is. home.