Just recently, I got an invitation to my upcoming 20th year high school reunion. And like any major markers in life, it got me thinking… deep… hard… I did some serious introspective digging through my ‘history’.
What I found produced a strange combination of both an ‘a-ha moment’ and an ‘I knew that’ moment all at the same time. How could that be? Dig deep with me and we’ll discover together.
It all began, where this story should logically begin, with school. I never went to pre-school, so when I got to kindergarten, it was all brand new. Most of the other kids knew each other because they had attended pre-school, so when I showed up, I was the new kid. And I was welcomed with a sense of awe and intrigue (as most things show up to kids that age.) Everyone wanted to know who I was, what I liked, disliked, and so on. Everybody wanted to be the new kid’s friend. I got invited to every birthday party, after school playdate, and any other social gathering that a 5 year old has. And it wasn’t that I didn’t want these things, or like these other kids, but there was always a ‘something else’ looming. So I occasionally went to these gatherings and made friends, but my heart wasn’t really in it.
Flash forward to high school. I was the kid who was in no particular category: not the coolest kid, not the biggest dork, not the bookworm, nor the stoner. I didn’t have a category. I was the square peg that knew I didn’t fit into the round hole, but just liked being near it instead. And that was a-ok for me. I had friends, friends from every single group from the above-mentioned. But I had no BFF. I don’t think I wanted or needed one.
Flash forward once again. Bear with me. I am 21 and moving across country, moving away from family and friends for the first time in my life. Was I afraid? Excited? Nervous? Sure, all of the above in some way. But I wanted to move on, because, because you see, there was always a part of me that knew where I grew up was not my ‘home’. So, in this new place, I got a new job, and new friends, and new hobbies, and really branched out. But again, I felt kind of square peg-like. So after several years, I moved almost across the country again, to another new state to start once more, because, that place was not my ‘home’ either.
Now, here I find, I must interject something.
I was not unhappy. In fact, I am a pretty happy person. I think if I had to describe myself, what comes to mind is a chameleon. My colors change to adapt to my surroundings. But all those colors are shades of me. Oh yes they are. So here I am, the happy chameleon, finding that it is time to move again. So I did. And I changed my colors, I fit in and made it happen. But again, I wasn’t ‘home’. I just knew it.
So, I did a 2 year stint in this new state, and then decided to try another state, once again, clear across the country…. and here I sit, about a year in. I love the place I live. I love the weather, the people, the food, the culture. I am happy here, but as you may have guessed, I am not ‘home’.
Now this may sound dreamy, or romantic, or just downright foolish, but I will tell you, home to me has always felt like Italy.
Yes, I said it. Italy.
I am an American, whose grandparents are from Italy, but I have never been to Italy myself. But every time I hear people talk of Italy, or see movies, or pictures, or read articles about Italy, I feel this overwhelmingly deep sense of homesickness. It may be hard to truly put into words, but there is this ache, this knowing sense emanating from somewhere within that says, “go home”, Italy is home. Call it what you will, my heart, my soul, my connection to the Universe… all signs point to Italy. Because, you see, there is no place like home. I know this. I just haven’t gotten there yet.
And I find, writing this, I could end this blog entry here…but I won’t. I must come full circle.
So, back to that 20 year reunion that looms in the very near future… should I stay or should I go? There is a part of me that thinks it would be cool to go, see where people ended up, how they ended up, if they ended up. But then there’s that part of me that knows it was never home, so if I should ever go home for a reunion, shouldn’t it be to Italy?
So, in light of all my introspection, instead of traveling across the country to go to my 20th year high school reunion, I am planning a different kind of reunion. This one is home, to Italy.
Because, there truly is no place like home.