Travel Journal

Ortigia (Siracusa), Sicily, 11/1-11/10

(Saturday 13 November 2010) by Joanne Chang
Ahhhh, Ortigia. I feel like I did nothing and everything here. 9 slow, peaceful days of sunshine and rain that blur together into a simple verse -- slow down and heal. When I left Florence my mind was all a jumble, I had this constant anxiety about what I was supposed to be doing, where I was supposed to be going, and how I would make a living when I got back to San Francisco. Two things I learned:
1. It doesn't matter where I go or what I see. I'm going to remember people, not places.
2. I can't start a new life without letting go of the old one first. In all reality I am still married, and divorce is like my foot - it heals slowly.

Lesson 1 is a relief, but it's hard to practice. I want to see and do everything! Guide books are great at creating FOMO* and when you're traveling you feel you need to take advantage of all you have access to. But it's simply not possible to see everything in my guide book about Italy (let alone the world!). Thank you, Catherine, for teaching me that we cannot always be tourists; this is our life. We need days and even weeks when we don't do anything but get a good night's sleep and listen to our bodies. I spent many days in Ortigia just listening to music, looking at photos (on my new mac!), doing a little yoga and staring out to sea.

Lesson 2 means it's not all fun and games out here for little Jo. I have a lot of work to do but thankfully I have the time and space to do it. Somehow when I left San Francisco I thought I had already moved on, but I've been moving so fast the events of 2009 never really caught up with me. I guess I thought if I ran and didn't look back, they might give up and let me be, but your past doesn't work like that. It needs to be acknowledged and understood and forgiven, before you can put it away without fear that someday it's going to break down your door. If you know the stories, you can understand that a lot of it is still hard for me to believe. This is a screenplay, this is not my life! ...ohhhhh, but it is. Gosh darn it. If I get it together someday, it'll be both. Right now I just need to accept it, learn as much as I can from it, and let it go.

Catherine and Jo, Fontane Bianche, Sicily
Catherine and Jo, Fontane Bianche, Sicily
In addition to all this self-reflection, I am grateful for being able to spend this time with Catherine. We cooked our dinners of a kitchen cabinet (genius-- when you're done, you close the kitchen and it looks like a pantry!), explored Sicilian wine, swapped stories and massages, and learned that a passionate Italian man who lacks patience can knock the wind out of you, but let him be. Sadly we must part ways in Ortigia, uncertain when we'll meet again, but it's clear we will. I leave here more centered and complete than when I arrived, and maintain my position as the luckiest girl in the world.

* FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out

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