Twelve months of an amazing roller coaster ride of ups, downs, uncertainties, certainties, fears conquered, new beginnings and experiences. I accomplished new goals and a few old ones. I learned so much about myself and sadly, about others who have been in my life for many years.
Starting in January and February the focus was about getting my Passport. Nervous about the process, I was lucky enough to have “Passport Specialist” Janet take my hand and walk me through. It arrived in record time and sealed my plan to go to Italy.
March brought me a big mixed bag of accomplishment and hurt. Thanks to my stepfather, the last $300 I needed to purchase my airline tickets was gifted to me. I sat in the Travel office with cash in hand, booked my flights and told my story when asked why I had to land in Napoli on 12 May 2013. The realization of my dream was emotional that day, I cried and she cried. The Travel office was buzzing when one agent heard our conversation and quickly everyone was filled with smiles, tears and best wishes for a great trip.
As of that point less than a handful of people knew of my 100 Years goal. I believe some didn’t really think I’d go through with the trip period. I guess in some ways I can understand as I tend to be a dreamer and a wisher. As I shared my steps with more people they started to believe.
April held true to its lore; “April Showers bring May Flowers”. And it showered in April. The first storm came with a phone message from my dear friend’s husband. He owns the house I live in and we have had a “housesitting” arrangement for a few years now. Not wanting to sell or rent it, he (they) offered me to live here, keep it occupied, pay the utilities. When he realized that I had booked my flights he went over the proverbial edge. Came to the house while I was working one day and tore the laundry room apart. Why the laundry room? I think he was looking for a stash of some kind, but things were tossed all over. Then he went through the living area. My Passport that I had so proudly displayed in a glass cabinet was moved; my airline tickets all messed up. Then the voice message; “I thought it was just a dream, I never believed you’d go through with it. You must be rolling in the dough if you can afford to take an International Vacation. I guess it’s time I re-access the deal with the house.” Ending with “Ciao for now”
I could spend a lot of time writing about the aftermath of that storm – I have a lot to say about it and will post more in the future. For now, I will let that river of muck sit.
April also brought me lists, lots of lists. Packing, pet sitter, research papers and photos to take, organizing and making sure everything here was covered while I was gone. Above all that my animals would be taken care of.
It also was when I finally let the world know of my 100 Years journey. Mouths dropped, eyes revealed shock and tears and the same words came out of each mouth; “I just got the chills”. Everyone said that, I was amazed to hear it so many times.
May finally came, the months of research, finding of family in another country, bonding with them via the internet for two years, Passport, tickets, spending money and nerves it was all coming together. I was scared about the actual travel process. Not being in the plane but how international flights actually work. Questioning in my head “how will I know where to go, what is Customs like?”
So many people were excited for me. I received cards of best wishes with gifts of money and each signed “I am so happy for you! Have a wonderful time. Have lunch/dinner on me” or “Here’s a little something to help insure you have the trip of a lifetime.” I was not expecting those gifts, it was humbling yet I was grateful and honored.
On May 11th my sister picked me up and off we went to the Rochester Airport. It’s kind of hard to describe how I felt that morning. I was nervous when I woke up but as soon as I hugged my sister goodbye and went through security, there was a huge sense of peace that came over me. Yes, I was still nervous about the process but deep inside I felt an overwhelming calm. An intuition, that all was as it should be. You can call me crazy but I did feel the presence of both my Dad and my Grandfather.
After leaving Philadelphia and arriving in Brussels on the 12th (with no sleep, because I can’t sleep on planes) I was energized and filled with excitement! I was in Europe!! Okay, so it was only the airport, but to me it was a big event! I sat and waited to board the final plane that would take me to my destination; Napoli, Italia. 100 years exactly to the day that my Grandfather arrived in America. To have a window seat was thrilling to me. I watched the landscape change, white to green. I saw Naples underneath me and as the plane hit the runway, tires breaking and speed reducing to a taxi mode I could feel my heart racing, my tears welling and my hands shaking with excitement. I had done it; I landed on Italian soil 100 Years to the day. It was incredible.
The story of my journey is in these two posts;
June and July were filled with feelings of confusion and the inability to unravel the thoughts and powerful emotions of my journey. I tried to write, tried to share the experience but just could not get it flowing. Feelings of being in the wrong place, America, were more than I could comprehend or understand. When I was in Italy I was home. There were strong feelings of peace, belonging, love and comfort in Melfi. I wanted to go back; my Melfi family wanted me to stay in Melfi. Another dream formed; Move to Melfi.
These two months also brought me back to the sucker punch of the house deal. He came up with all kinds of ridiculous stories to instill fear and threats in me. Emotional manipulations and lies were tossed at me. I did not for one second believe a single word and I saw through every one like the holes of Swiss cheese. I let it ride as the beginnings of something I could not define were starting to spark in my head.
August brought me the amazing and glorious gifts of clarity and flowing of thoughts. Finally, I was able to organize my heart and my head into one cohesive unit. The words came, the music came and most of the story told. First here on my blog, then upon requests, copies printed and given out. It was a good month for me overall but something was lurking in the shadows of my mind. A strong sense of doom grew within. Again, I let it ride.
September and October brought light. I missed my Melfi family; I wanted to start planning my next trip, to set a goal date to return. And then the light shone itself; As long as I live in this house I will never be allowed to return to Italy. There it was, the nagging shadow had stepped in to view. It was in that moment I realized I needed to do two things right away. First was to find a better paying job. A job that would allow me enough money to pay rent and be able to eat, drive and have my pets. Second was to move. Get as far away from this once friend, now foe, as possible. I needed to find a place where no one would enter when I wasn’t home and go through my things. I needed to find a place where my things would be just as I left them when I returned home. A better paying job is hard to find at my age with little education, it’s not gonna happen overnight. But nothing is impossible and I need to make more money, get above poverty level and make a better life for myself.
I had received my lighted message and plans started to form.
But then came November…..A surprise visit from “him” on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. “I want the house back” was all he would say. I asked 3 times “what did I do?” and got the same answer each time. I knew EXACTLY what I had done; I went to Italy, but I wanted him to say the words. I know that was silly to expect, but I really wanted to hear it anyway. Verbally he gave me until Dec 31st. Two days later the “formal letter” stating we’d get together in mid-January to set an out by date. (Guy can’t even keep his own words straight!) One week later the same letter delivered by Certified Mail.
He; the judge and jury decided my fate, his punishment for my crime. His wife; my “friend” of 20+ years – never heard a single word.
December; it is now just a couple of days before Christmas. No decorations here, no presents to give. No Christmas music playing. I have been packing up my things. Little by little each day I clear out a shelf, a closet and make decisions about what to keep and what to toss. What goes to Thrift Stores and what goes into storage. I cry a lot when I’m alone. I pray a lot because I am scared to death. I pray a lot because I am angry. I keep telling myself this will turn out okay; something better is on the horizon. But it’s hard to believe my own words and thoughts right now. In some ways I feel like I’m in a state of denial, that two people I have been friends with, shared laughter and tears, funerals and puppies, enjoyed spending a lot of time with could do this to me. Alas, it is done and here I sit looking at the great unknown, Mountain Gypsy on the move again.
Maybe it’s an answer to my prayers for peace, guidance, understanding and love. It could be that I am being protected from evil by leaving here. The evil that snoops around my things when I’m not home, the evil that judges me because I did something HE couldn’t do, the evil that tells lies and uses his position of power to hurt. Well, so be it.
As December fades and 2014 begins to come into view, I will be out of here. Maybe even back to my family in Italy, a better job and a place to live where I don’t have to check if someone’s been snooping. Maybe not, maybe I could end up much worse off, but either way; I will pay the price for what I did, what I accomplished, the love I found, the peace I felt and the whole incredible and epic journey I made happen.
Here’s to good things, happy times and a lot of Peace and Joy in 2014