Each time I go to Italy it feels more like home. This has both good and bad elements, and the most confusing is that moment when I step off the plane onto my actual home soil. I have in my heart and in my Facebook photo albums images and memories - proof, if you will - that I actually was far from my everyday life. And yet, somehow, it feels as if I've not quite left here, not quite returned, not quite - yet - begun to separate myself from either there or here.
Along with jet-lag, this sense of returning/always been here/always there is rough to navigate. It lasts a week or more: fitful sleep; strange dreams in which I am drinking coffee on Borgo Pio, strolling along Via Vicenza to one of my favorite restaurants; boarding a vaporetto in Venice to be carried toward Hotel Centuaro. Coffee slowly begins to taste normal again, and hearing English everyday and translating it into my broken Italian becomes less and less frequent.
Finally I wake at the right hour, and don't drift off to sleep at 3:00 in the afternoon. It is the first night's full sleep when I come fully to the realization that it is only in my dreams that I walk the cobblestone streets of Pitgliano or sail on Lago Bolsena, and that I am here, in this home instead.
Both call to my heart, and for now I will talk and think and dream of Italy while I fill my days with the joys of walking the dogs and talking with my husband and coffee and dinners with friends. That way when I next go to Italy I can dream of these things, and keep the balance in this world in which I live, always, in two places at once.