It seems that I’m becoming more comfortable with embracing challenges these days. With that in mind, I’m embracing the A-to-Z Blogging challenge, by writing about the things that I most closely associate with being alive, when I show up and engage with life as fully as possible.
And with that, I give you:
When I was growing up, I never really gave much thought as to where Dad was likely to be stationed. It wasn’t like he really had much of a say in the “when”s, “where”s, or “how long”s of his military career. He might have a little wiggle room in the “how long” if he requested an extension on his assignment but that was about it.
When we moved to Germany, for whatever reason, I started hoping he might get assigned to Zaragoza, Spain or Aviano, Italy. I can’t really tell you why I wished for either assignment or even if either were in the realm of possibility. I think I just liked the sound of the name “Zaragoza”, but Italy? Oh hells to the yeah! Hello – history! Good morning – mythology! I was only a kid of about 8 years old or so, but I was well on my way to being a certified dork about this kind of stuff.
Although Dad was sent to Italy a few times on TDY (temporary duty) during his tour in Germany, he was never permanently assigned there. I had to wait until long after I left college before I had a chance to visit Italy for myself. And by that time I had added a complete passion for music (Hello Verdi and Puccini!) and art (Buon giorno Caravaggio and Donatello), to my rudimentary familiarity with history and mythology.
I can’t really do justice to a two week singing trip through Rome, Florence and Venice. There was the midnight stroll from our hotel near the Palatine Hill, down by the Forum and alongside the Coliseum. There was running into a college choir from Ohio in Florence and discovering we were leap-frogging each other on the concert schedule. There was standing by the bell tower in the Piazza San Marco in Venice and impulsively breaking into song, drawing the attention of a college choir from Ohio and discovering we were leap-frogging each other on the concert schedule.
What I can tell you, though, is that between the bottles of the most incredible Chianti I’d ever tasted and the obligatory lemon gelato every night (I am completely ruined for any other frozen, creamy treat now), I felt like I had found a sense of homecoming. Not really saudade, but a deeply felt familiarity, like my favourite jeans and sweatshirt, curled up with a good book in a comfy chair.
At the end of the trip, when I was asked to summarize my thoughts on the fortnight’s adventures, I remember telling a friend, “Rome appealed to my mind, Florence called to my soul, and Venice called my heart.” And not much has changed since then.