I look at the clock. It’s still Hot o’ Thirty. The heat has been stifling and I’m losing weight. I’m in Eat City, Lucca, Italy, and I look on the wrong side of slender. I miss Taco Time and the Baja Fish tacos. The knot in my stomach isn’t helping.
Part 1 – The Garden
Before we left Edmonds I told Sandy I would need two weeks of hermitude once we arrived in Lucca to process leaving our home and spectacular garden that had become my raison d’être over the last five years.
I had no idea when we moved to Edmonds in 2017 that I’d be ‘borged,’ by the garden, the Borg being one of my favorite Star Trek entities whose ambition was the assimilation of the unsuspecting into its greater objective. But the garden chose me, an opportunity waiting to happen and away we went, me and my unexpected purpose.
This particular Mistress, which is how I sometimes refer to whatever is my purpose in life, was now approaching her pull date. I was showing signs that my creator-destroyer disposition was getting restless. I would have preferred a much slower painful break-up, but our circumstances warranted a logical, well thought out parting of ways sooner rather than later, and here we are.
Beside, the Voice of God, or VOG had made a guest appearance. VOG is in the pantheon of characters that live in my head. I cannot invoke VOG to speak to me nor can I ask direct questions of this holder of my truth and well being. Rather s/he shows up without warning at crucial moments as they are unfolding, and lately, significant crossroads involving my purpose.
So there I was, five years after being Borged, many projects under my belt, much dirt moved and lots of plants pruned. Sandy and I sat at the bank doing banky things. I was trying to comprehend the thinking of the branch manager who had made a substantial error with us, watching her shirk around acknowledgement of her mistake and marveling at her spin.
Then a picture of my garden flashed onto the Jumbotron in my mind, blotting out the dollar signs, signature lines and annoying manager. With a commanding voice over that I know well, VOG declared:
‘Your work here is done.’
‘Okay then,’ I thought back at VOG. ‘I was wondering because it seemed there were a few warning signs so thanks for the clarity.’ To the bank manager I simply said, ‘I’m sorry, where did you say to sign?’
On one of my last days in the garden, I sat and looked over it from the third terrace. The Golden Chain tree I brought from Seattle as a sapling. The camellia I moved from the second terrace to be near the sequoia, the fabulous weeping buddleja I had grown from a cutting taken from a friend’s back yard. Beyoncé the Japanese maple, one of many divas gracing the terraces. For a brief, startling moment I saw me looking back. I cringed, knowing soon someone was going to own a hunk of me. No matter how much I tell myself it was never mine in the first place, I cannot deny I am everywhere, and I will always, always wonder how my Borg is faring.
Subconscious FM radio, a non-stop music station that lives in my head has been unmercifully playing ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ sung by Andrea Botticelli. A bit on the nose with him being Italian and all, however I get the attempt to mitigate but not ignore my sadness by going just a tad sentimental.
Part 2 – Luster off the Pearl
Walking into our ransacked Italian apartment, ‘Casa Ursula,’ after our hectic exit from Edmonds and 18 travel hours with cats in tow was the perfect physical embodiment of my already frazzled psyche. Total Chaos. Loss of control. Shit storm. Nothing takes the luster off the pearl faster than a good tossing, and through the oppressive heat Ursula now felt far more shabby than chic. Time to move from this home too.
There is only one thing missing after the break-in. Only one thing unaccounted for. A bed spread. Not just any bed spread, but a beautiful embossed cream white seashell patterned blanket we bought when we rented our first flat here. I adore it. And it’s nowhere to be found.
Part 3 – I’m not lonely. I’m just lost
I’m hanging out with my pacifiers, my iPhone which means friends are just a 9 hour text away and Survivor, boasting 42 seasons. If I feel isolated I go to the main drag, the Via Fillunga, where human contact in five minutes is ten fold what I had living in Edmonds.
Besides. I have the many characters living in my head. I have the Voice of God, Subconscious FM Radio and five past Mistresses, all clamoring about. Add various Looney Tunes characters and it’s show time in here.
No. I’m not lonely. I’m just lost.
I watch my cat Lollie pace around trying to find a place to settle in, like the famous spot finder Carlos Castaneda. It took me a few to realize cats get jet lag too, and she still doesn’t have her comfortable places. Neither do I but I’m searching for those places in my head, a routine and familiarity to replace my foundation: my full time nursery job, my other full time Garden Mistress job, my home with its comfortable shortcomings, my interpretation of the Barca Lounger that I refused to get rid of because despite its ratty appearance the cat liked to sleep on my out stretched legs while I watched TV, my social patterns and community, including the guy who wears a sleeping bag and pan handles on the corner, the time wasted in traffic and all things familiar that are part of making a life known. I’m not even talking about placating my high achiever affliction yet, or the pesky language barrier. Pulling up roots and moving to a foreign country is like having a baby. Nothing prepares you for it until it’s right there in front of you. You may have carefully considered, read the books, thought it through including your new raison d’être, and even have an apartment complete with husband already in it*. But until you actually do it, it hasn’t been done.
The elegant ballet teacher Susan Zadoff once stated in a class I was attending regarding the rigors of dance, ‘My dear, no one ever said it was going to be easy.’ Sure enough. It takes time to create a new life and figure out the demands of a new endeavor, and you are reading mine. I knew I needed a lot of time and space in order to write, and wow I sure gave it to myself.
In the meantime, I’m going to normalize and go buy some lipstick at Sephora.
* Sandy made the jump to Lucca a full year before me.
©️Theresa Elliott, all rights reserved.