location: Naples, Italy
It's the beginning of the end to my two week jaunt around Italy, and with only one day left in Catania I'm feeling a bit wistful already. This holiday is more than I could have dreamed - Italy has proven to be something out of a story book, beautiful and complicated and enthusiastic and serene all at once. I began it without a word of Italian in my vocabulary, and now I know how to order wine and say "fuck off" five different ways thank you very much. I didn't realize how much I needed to escape until I already had.
Getting lost in foreign cities, eating (I mean really eating), befriending people who don't speak English and yet somehow communicating so easily - it's exactly what I needed. A reminder of the delights of humanity, of the amazing things people are capable of, like building towering monuments that manage to stand for hundreds of years, or the stunningly generous friends who insist on feeding la Americana until she bursts. I've been floored by the incredible benevolence of people I hardly know, and the warmth, literally and figuratively, of everything here.
Lately it seems like the cold of London was seeping into the minds of myself and everyone around me. The past six months were so intensely focused on The Problems - sexism, racism, imperialism, etc - that somewhere along the way my world slipped into cynicism. I suddenly found myself in the midst of sour souls, embittered by the ways in which the world had made them weary. Feminism was no longer joyful, but instead a heavy burden, one which could only judge and not celebrate. But a series of happy events, like hearing Caitlin Moran speak on International Women's Day, meeting a particularly kind Brit, and having a chat with a stranger on a park bench (just like in the movies!) snapped me out of the negativity. I embarked on this two week leave of absence with optimism, and am now ending it with reassurance that the world isn't all bad. So now, though this post marks the end of one adventure, it's also the beginning of the next - my real life. There are so many things I will take from Italy, but I think the most substantial Italian vibe I plan on incorporating into my real life is a certain joie de vivre. And yes, I know that's a French phrase, but I've never met a group people who embody it better than the Italians I've encountered. So here's to the thrill of life, and knowing that even when things go south, we always have pizza.