It’s January 31st.
It’s the last day of Italy. It’s the last day of my journey. It’s the last day of my attempt to build a life on another continent, to learn another language, to make a new world for myself. It’s the last day for me to walk casually past the gigantic monuments, the overwhelming Vatican, the Cloverfield Monster also known as the Pantheon, and the giant symbolic masterpiece of the Colosseum. It’s the last day for me to eat non-processed cheese, indulge into gelato and chocolate, and drink a real cappuccino. It’s the last day for me to LIVE in Italy. Tomorrow I board a flight back to America. Back to American sized coffee, convenience corner CVS, and where people follow traffic signals.
It’s time to pack my bags. It’s time to choose the things I need and the things that can be left in Italy. Hairdryer with European plug? Leave it. Videocamera? Bring it home. Towel? Leave it. Excess shampoo and conditioner? Leave it. New leather boots? Bring them. Heart?
What do I do with my heart?
I need my heart to thrive in order to show all the kindness and caring that I have within me. But I fear that I will truly leave my heart here—in this place where I have found love in the cracks of the cobblestone and in the bubbles of my cappuccino. In this place where I have found love in the train rides to distant cities, the simplicity of walking around each one of those cities, and the nooks and crannies that I have found in each of those cities. In this place where I have found love, have given love, and have received love. In this place that I truly did leave my heart two years ago. In this place that I have fallen in love with all over again.
It would be much easier if your heart was something that you took, rolled in the sleeves of your favorite sweater, and placed perfectly in the center of your luggage so as not to damage it during the turbulence of the ten hour plane ride home. It would be so much easier if your heart were just something you needed to pack and bring with you wherever you went—like your toothbrush, your soap, your shampoo, your underwear. But your heart is much different than all these things. Your heart isn’t practical. It’s both breakable—and—irreplaceable.
Footprints? Leave them. Memories? Take them. Heart.
What do I do with my heart?
I wish I could string half my heart to a necklace and put it around Italy’s neck, while I wear the other half around mine. Then one day I could return, and reconnect the pieces. But the problem with that is, of course, that until I returned I’d be broken hearted—and I am not looking to live that way—nor am I looking to live heartless.
So this time I am not going home empty-hearted. I’m not going home with a longing for a place that I’ve already seen, lived, and breathed. I am not going home with tears in my eyes, and endless wishes.
This time I am going home with an even bigger heart full of love for adventure, for spontaneity, for the chance to return. This time I am going home with a big heart filled with a big sort of love for Italy, one I knew of before, but confused with longing and lust. This time I am going home knowing I went back…knowing I found the other half of my heart beneath the cobble stone, the bubbles of cappuccino, and the ruins of the biggest monuments. This time I am going home knowing I haven’t left a piece of it behind. This time I am going home with Rome in my heart…not leaving my heart with Rome…this time I have my heart in my hands and a lot of love between my fingers. This time I’m taking my heart with me.