My tent blew away today, and that is exactly how I feel. I didn’t peg it down, maybe because there was nowhere to peg it, or maybe it was symbolic, who knows. I suppose recently I have developed an aversion to roots, of any kind.
Sitting on the porch swing pretending to be writing, willing myself to write something profound that would capture the heaviness, the uncertainty and curiosity that are blooming inside of me at present, a big gust of wind just picked it up and off it went, topsy turvy. I watched it for a few moments as it rolled around the yard, at the mercy of the gusting June day, until I roused myself from my perch and went after it.
Time to take stock. I’ve been home, in Ontario, for eleven days. Job? No. Plan? Also no. Money? Negative. I’ve just left my apartment, my job and my friends behind in Florence to come back home, and my head is still spinning. But every night as I pad bare-footed out to the back garden of my grandfather’s house, I switch on the canopy of fairy lights I’ve strung above my tent for a moment, then I sit cross-legged in the grass, facing the back fields. The cows have usually gone to sleep but the fireflies are just waking up, lighting up the field with tiny flashes amongst the tall grass and wildflowers. You have to sit still. You have to watch everywhere at once to see them all at once. If you’re not patient, it seems to be just an empty field. But after a moment or two, you become aware of thousands of tiny sparks, here and then gone. So there’s that, a different type of wealth, I suppose.
I rummaged through the back shed the other day and dug out a very large backpack, from when my sister was travelling through Africa. I tried it on for size and liked the way it felt. Where will I go next?
The remnants of my Italy life hang heavy over me; jokes, sensations or memories passing through my mind, making me smile or sigh, turning to tell someone but realizing that the characters in my life there are unknown to anyone here. They have no place here, in this life, and are only preserved in my private memories that are foreign in this context. Saying goodbye is never easy.
Last night I had dinner with an old friend, in her childhood home where we had spent many afternoons playing, and later many nights sneaking sips of alcohol in the basement. As she was doing the dishes, I was rocking in an armchair, with my feet up, thinking out loud. I’ll go when the weather turns cold. I’ll go somewhere south, work for a bit. I then told her about my plans for next summer, how I want to come back and save some money to buy a van that I could travel America with, travelling southwest, towards the coast.
You want a van? She asked.
Yeah. One I could live in for a while, go anywhere, I said, staring at the ceiling.
Come with me, she said, sliding open the patio door.
She led me out into the back field, the wet grass dampening my sandals and her bare feet. When we reached the treeline, she ducked behind a bush and I heard a creaky door opening. Step inside…she said with a wave of her hand. I stepped behind the bush to see a silver camper van, grass and weeds growing up around the tires.
I forgot about this thing! I gasped, pushing aside some branches and climbing inside. It would be perfect! Would your parents sell it to me?
Honestly, they’d probably give it to you…it’s just an eyesore.
I bounced around the van, opening cupboards, testing out the dusty mattress and finally getting behind the wheel. It was perfect. I imagined seeing the Grand Canyon, driving route 66, rolling through the bayou, Louisiana, finally making it to California…
I want it. I said, running my hands along the old steering wheel.
I’ll talk to them when they get home from their vacation, she said, hopping out and shutting the door, heading back towards the house. I thought back to my last days in Florence. I’ll come visit you friend, I promise, I heard his voice say. I turned to the passenger seat and saw him sitting there, fiddling with the radio and telling some stupid joke, making me laugh in that way I hated because it made my gums show.
Where should we go…?