The absence of a self, of color. Every day it feels like I have less to show for who I am. My room is tidy, because I live in a house that is not my own. I have no decorations on the walls that define me. I used to wear sweatpants everyday, but now I’m dressing up, honing in on a single aspect of my identity. I’m loosing my words, even. I live with a family that speaks Italian and I’m the English native who is meant to speak English with the kids. I can speak Italian, but I’m the English native of course, who is speaking to the air; because by the time I finish speaking my words go in through one ear and out through the other.
Understandably. We’re antsy, I’m spending more time alone because the kids don’t want to do any of the activities I offer, and now I don’t know what my role is. “The English Au Pair” the English Something-or-other who lives here. I can’t write because I’m sick of it. I really appreciate the people that call me, because it’s a cure, someone who will hear, and it’s unfair. I want to be home too.
Days here are crisp, you can hear every footstep that echoes through empty streets and they become difficult to swallow and everyday I’m a little more shattered. But the voice of my love fuses the days together like melted chocolate filling a palace with its perfume, washing over shattered fragments of life over angles of houses separated and contained, molding them together once more, and I miss the indulgence of days before this.
I see angles. Sharp ones, soft ones, patches of shadow as the sun rises for the triangle days of waiting: For the rare comings and goings of people, so we have somewhere to go in our minds. Dreaming. Boats of balconies sailing through sky, where clouds are left unharmed. Angles floating through windows and my door, unlocking a sanctuary to let in a little bit of heaven, 6 o’clock songs, voices bouncing between buildings, mingling with the birds, washing away the static sameness of the days, like waves and pulling you into life once again.
It always takes me about 3 months to fully adjust to a new home I think. And I think it was this morning that it really struck me how beautiful Italy really is, and how the deeply rooted medieval structure of each city actually has it’s benefits. It encourages walking and biking because many cars nowadays can’t fit through the narrow streets.
The first thing I saw as I left the new gates in front of the house was how the light illuminated the colorful buildings, and the white laundry hanging from the clothesline, and its contrast. The morning sun made everything more colorful and splendid against the pure blue sky. An old man biked down the street, hazy with the saturated orange and pink colors of the buildings hanging in the air, reflecting and bouncing off each other.
I could see a translucent curtain in front of the doorway slightly blowing in the breeze, and the brilliant roses and flowers, pink and purple poking out of their shadowed backdrop and into the sun. And lastly, I remember passing beneath the olive tree whose leaves seemed to glow with magic, a little rubbing off onto my head each time I ducked beneath it to walk by.
I did start to feel a little homesickness, missing fall at home, but today I was reminded how much of me loves Pisa, and these little Italian cities that still have these somewhat limiting medieval structures, yet people thrive in it and use it’s advantages and make it their own, manipulate it. Or go with it, beautify it, blossom from it.