A Lifetime Away: Seeing Italy as Home One Last Time

It’s official: I no longer have a home in Italy.

I mean, it will always be home in my heart, and Trieste will always be a city I can return to and find family and friends and homes to reside in, however briefly.

But my parents’ home, the home that saw me through all three awkward middle school years, through the ups and downs of high school and first recognizing my depression diagnosis, through college and the one year of grad school and those three months in 2017 when I was broke and homeless and my parents opened their doors to me. That home is gone.

I’ve already posted about what the apartment itself means to me (see post to the left, ha), but in essence, it was Home. There were times I hated it, times I loved it, and times it was a safe refuge from the hardships of the world.

And after 15 years, my parents have left that apartment, and none of us can go back to it.

But before they left, I went back to Italy for one final trip.

I spent two weeks in Trieste (and a few days here and there in Slovenia), trekking to all my favorite old haunts and exploring the places that made me who I was.

People have been asking me how the trip was ever since I got back, and the truth is: it was the best visit I’ve had to Trieste in years. Not that there was anything wrong with the others! But this one…this one was just extraordinary.

It was just under two weeks long, and I felt every second of those 13 days. In a good way! In an “I’m experiencing every second of my time here and gleaning as much enjoyment as I can from every said second and soaking it all in, from the busy days walking around and riding on boats and going to castles to the lazy afternoons drinking tea in the living room.”

Yes, that’s a run-on sentences. No, I don’t care. Moving on!

I spent a few afternoons at various beaches — and when I say beach, I mean Barcola and the beach in Piran, Slovenia, aka sidewalks where people lay out on their beach towels, with steps leading into the Adriatic Sea.

I grew up going to Barcola, but it had been…wow, something like 10 years (or more) since I’d taken myself to that beach. It was so pleasant to lie on a non-sandy ground, and the water…it was clear blue, refreshing, made me feel like I was on a cruise in the middle of summer, except I was actually 10 feet away from speeding traffic in the middle of September. Glorious.

I also got to do even more touristy things, like visit my castle (Miramare, the one tattooed on my arm); ride a boat through the harbor; eat gelato in the largest on-water piazza in Europe; go to Piran and wander around the rocky cobblestones in the city so tiny you can’t even drive into it; and eat at an Osmiza, which I can’t for the life of me figure out how to explain but click that link and you’ll find it’s worth it.

The second week I was there, I was joined by my roommate here in New York City; the first week, I spent many days reconnecting with my best friends from childhood, seeing church friends, and relaxing.

It was a glorious last visit to Italy as “home.” From now on, no matter how much I wish it were otherwise, I’ll always be a guest in the country when I return. I won’t have a base, and it feels like my options for ever moving back full-time are off the table now.

I don’t know if that’s true. Maybe I’m overreacting; that’s quite possible, knowing myself. But it’s how I feel regardless, and that’s powerful.

Viewing Trieste this one last time through the eyes of someone who might not get to go back: that was rough. I tried not to think about it, to just soak in everything I was experiencing: the joy of showing my friend around my home, the joy of visiting it myself, even the tiredness and pain that I felt from walking more than I’m used to. I tried to enjoy it even when I had to stand for 45 minutes in the tattoo parlor waiting for my new tattoo; even when I was jet-lagged and hungry and tired and cranky (which I was, because I’m human, and humans get cranky on vacation sometimes).

I wonder how much that refusal to think about saying good-bye is affecting me now, making it harder. Maybe I’ll refuse to think about that, as well. Maybe I’ll just think about nothing but the way the sun set over the water on my last night…the way Miramare looked framed by trees from a bench in the shade…the perfect magic of Piran under a beautiful blue sky…the fun of taking my roommate to all my favorite places.

Maybe I’ll just treasure the trip I had, and not think about all the trips I won’t have going forward. I’ll cherish these memories in the deepest part of my soul forever, and hope and hope to go back someday, tread the same solid ground, breathe in the salty air, and think: yes, this is still home, even after a lifetime away.