Holiday review 1 - Italy
Hello lovelies, and welcome to my holidays review number one: HOME. (Well, Italy. Italy still feels like home. But other places feel like home too, and I could talk for hours about this and I probably will in a separate post.)
It took me a marvellous 48 hours from my doorstep in Wellington to my doorstep in snazzy Marmirolo, during which I managed to sleep a total of zero hours, eat a total of half a meal, explore every centimetre of Singapore airport (would recommend), and finally sit for 13 hours in between two people who slept for the whole plane journey while I couldn’t either lean against the window, get out or do anything really since my seat wouldn’t recline and my screen didn’t work.
My parents came to pick me up in Milan and during the three-plus-hour drive home I managed to simultaneously traumatise them by delivering the worst elevator pitch trying to illustrate my upcoming life projects, and make them lose all hopes in me by proclaiming my enthusiasm for nor shaving or wearing a bra.
They in turn proceeded to throw a bunch of bad news I had no idea about to my sleep-deprived face all at once, including my mum possibly having bowel cancer, which made me want to turn around and take a plane back straight away.
So that was a fun ride back home.
When I finally arrived, I barely had time for a shower before my BFF picked me up to go to my other BFF’s hen party that was going to last the whole weekend. (I still had time to ruin my parents’ weekend by walking out the door wearing something that they did not deem appropriate for the occasion.)
In spite of not leaving in the best mood, it ended up being a super fun couple of days. The party involved beer tasting, a spa, typical mountain cuisine, Disney board games, homemade brunch, alpaca walking and lots of good old catching up.
Also not sleeping until 2 in the morning apparently helped me recover from the jet lag pretty much immediately, although I couldn’t be sure that was the secret (check out my post on how to survive the jet lag here).
Once I got back home again, my parents and I spent three days of nerve-wracking trips to the hospital and even more strenuous results-waiting, until we finally learned that my mum was FINE and her doctors were DICKS but at least we could stop worrying.
I’m not gonna lie, the rest of the time turned out to be quite boring, which is what happens when you’re the only one on holidays and all your friends are working. But at least I had the chance to have several constructive conversations with my mum about what we had discussed in the car, and of course it all turned out to be a big fat misunderstanding: my parents are not disappointed in me for wearing baggy clothes and I understand their fears of me potentially trying to steer my career into uncertain waters. We talked it all through and re-established our usual peaceful climate.
(Top tip: maybe don’t discuss your life plans with your family when you can’t remember the last time you slept and your mother thinks she has bowel cancer.)
Then wedding day came and it was BEAUTIFUL. I was the bridesmaid and more nervous than before my own wedding, even though I literally only had to be there and do nothing. When they were finally pronounced, I felt as if I had just sat my last exam. The party afterwards was good fun and the following day, when I said goodbye to the happy couple who were leaving for their honeymoon, I felt like I had reconfirmed the bond my friend and I have had our whole life but I’m always afraid we might lose because of me living so far away.
My last days at home were a mix of chillax and anticipation for my imminent departure. I filled one afternoon by randomly meeting up with a friend who I hadn’t seen in like 12 years, and in spite of being mega nervous it actually went really well and I’m so so glad we got to catch up.
Overall, Italy was way more stressful than a holiday home should be. I believe one factor was that I wasn’t there long enough: it always takes me several days to adjust to being home again, and because my stay was only 12 days by the time I had adjusted it was already time for me to leave. At the same time though, I don’t think I could have stomached being there any longer.
It really saddened me to see how everything in my home country is falling apart. From terrible customer service to inexistent gratuitous kindness, from politics being ridiculous to close-mindedness and bigotry, from friends struggling to find a job to my own dad being physically and mentally exhausted from overworking.
On top of all this, more then ever this time round I felt like I don’t belong there. Both being a vegan and zero waster already make me “weird”, but also the fact that I just look different - I don’t wear the same clothes everyone else wears, my hair’s a mess, my skin’s not perfect - really makes me feel like an outsider. (This might sound random. I’m already writing an entire separate post about it.)
The point is: my twelve days in Italy both made me want to move closer and to be as far away from all that as possible.
On one hand, I feel bad for not being able to help out my parents who are clearly neck-deep in work, or for not spending more time with my amazing Grandpa, who let’s be real is not eternal (despite what he thinks). I’m also sad that I’ve managed to reinforce some strong connections with old friends and now I can’t hang out with them on a regular basis. But at the same time, I know moving back to Italy would probably kill me. I can not live in a country where nobody smiles at you and people live in a climate of mistrust towards each other.
I left my mum at the airport telling her that I was excited about going to London but also I was looking forward to be back in New Zealand. If I think that only nine moths ago I was dreading the idea of leaving the safe feeling that Italy gave me to return to my Wellington uncertainty, it’s quite impressive that my feelings have changed so much.
But I’m glad they have.