The new year I most remember since Marabella’s been around was the year of the fuga as I call it. I had pulled the plug on life as I knew it In Australia and fled to Italy to clear my head and get some space from an impossible home life. We were away five months in the end, Marabella and I. September through to January. Mostly in an apartment in a ‘residence’ as the Italians call it (I suppose we’d say condominium) just out of Perugia. Residenza Monterone. Bus 89 from Piazza Morlacchi, heading towards Casaglia.
Twice, sometimes three times a day we’d take the bus from the stop right outside our cancello and head up to town. The routine did me good I think. I had to be organized. I had to plan my days. I was on my own but I had a great friend too. My rock. Florinda was only a teen when I first came to Perugia and stayed at her family’s hotel in Via San Sebastiano and it wasn’t until the year I returned with Marabella as a baby that we really became friends. In the year of the fuga, New Year’s Eve was spent at her table in Bosco. I didn’t want to intrude but Florinda insisted. Her daughter Rosy and Marabella love playing together still. But I didn’t have a car and it meant she had to organize for us to be picked up and dropped home again and she already had other guests from Calabria…. I had a thousand excuses. Mille. But instead, thank goodness, mi sono fatta convincere. For the first time in a long time that New Year’s Eve, I let myself go with the flow. I said yes. By midnight we were back at home at Monterone on the mezzanine, watching the fireworks. I was doing the right thing, I remember thinking, being in Italy. I didn’t know it then, but I would I need every scrap of faith I’d managed to find in those five months to confront the next twelve in Melbourne. Ma certe cose meglio non saperle.
Seven years on, Marabella’s growing up. She’s at high school from February and I won’t we able to take stay away with her with the same freedom for all sorts of reasons. Hence the nostalgia I guess. When I was in Perugia again this year in May, I knew I had to start making sense of this foot-in-both-camps life I’ve made. To take a risk and see what happened. To put a stake in the ground even if it made me feel uncomfortable. So I did. But the biggest surprise was that it’s not uncomfortable at all. It’s what makes the world go around. You just need to give yourself permission. It all comes back to one word really.