It happens every time. Roughly two hours after trudging my bleary-eyed self from a transatlantic, overnight flight of many hours, inching through customs, taking a car or shuttle to an Air B&B or hotel room, unpacking, and rehydrating and trying to shake the travel off my skin and hair: I become Europe Laura.
Europe Laura’s always there, somewhere, even when I’m at home, being my author self and doing what I love best. I’m happy and fulfilled inside in my writing cave with my laptop and edit notes and imagination. I’m happy having my family slide food under the door and watching the coffee mugs pile up on my desk.
But sometimes this life and career I chose makes my limbs too pale and chops up my time, attention, and focus into bright confetti pieces. They scatter everywhere. I make choices for convenience instead of big living. I forget to remember.
This year it was Italy that reminded me. And just like my days spent in Paris or Amsterdam or being in the UK in London or Scotland, Europe Laura emerged from the hard shell of myself quickly and completely. So soon after walking the cobblestones of central Rome, I found the part of myself who hates strip malls and suburbia and big-box grocery stores and driving everywhere and processed foods and made it the whole of myself. For two weeks I lived the life I crave and tried to pack as much of it into my bags as I could fit onto the plane home.
Even now, reunited with my home and children, American Laura is going to do better.
Italy reminds me:
- Eat local, fresh, minimally processed foods that are in season and grown with care.
- If I can, walk instead of drive. Walk, walk, walk everywhere. Walk paths and neighborhoods and city streets and beaches. Stop and look for beautiful details. Stop more. Look more. Remember more.
- I don’t need more coffee, I need better coffee.
- Sit in outdoor cafes with friends. More friends, more cafes. Sit for long hours over coffee or wine or snacks.
- Buy flowers for my home in the market. Arrange them all over the house.
Ciao, Bella Italia, and thank you for reminding me.