The French have an expression, ‘etre bien dans sa peau’. Literally to feel good in one’s skin, to be at ease with who you are. It’s what we’re all striving for in some way or another I think. I have moments when I feel like this. I hope we all do. And it’s true too that, wherever we go, we take ourselves with us. Changing places is only ever a temporary fix at best. People have asked me in a round about way lately if my frequent flights into Italy are me escaping myself. Or trying to. I’ve asked myself the same thing. In part, probably, I do get the urge to run away sometimes. Like the need for a holiday. But rather than a time to relax and unwind, my travels are more about doing the living I don’t do enough of in Melbourne.
It’s also true though that I feel better in my skin when I’m in Italy. Standing on my own in a bar of strangers in Rome or Milan or Perugia, jostling for my morning coffee, I’m in my element. I get a sense of connection and bonhomie in those moments I almost never feel here. O God, I’m still the same fussy, demanding, opinionated person there as here, don’t get me wrong. All the defects remain. It’s just that over there, being me comes easier somehow. And I’ve spoken to enough people to know I’m not the only one. The feeling of being more yourself in certain places than in others is real. Seeking it out isn’t always about escape. Maybe it’s just easier for us introverts to spot the difference.