I found myself floating lazily on my back in the Adriatic. The sun was intense on my face. Even though the cool water was lapping over my bronzed chest, I could still feel the sun sizzling there, too. The Adriatic was calm with few waves. I gently moved my arms about and floated in a circle. It had been a hectic few days.
My best friend arrived a few days ago from my hometown for a four week visit to Europe. I’ve been anticipating his arrival. He flew into Rome and I met him there. We sat in my hotel room knocking back bottles of beer and glasses of wine as we got caught up. We’ve been friends for forty years and this seven month separation found us talking non-stop as we got caught up.
The next day we had flown to Palermo in Sicily. We caught a bus for our rented seafront apartment in Sciacca. Our little abode was located in a rural subdivision and featured a large patio overlooking the Mediterranean. We spent each night out there enjoying the full moon. He Skyped with his girlfriend. I posted on Facebook.
We hooked up with my brother and his girlfriend along with my nephew at a luxurious resort. We toured Sciacca. We toured Agrigento and marveled at the beautifully preserved Greek ruins. We rented a car and I finally broke my fear of driving in Italy. It wasn’t that bad. Once you eliminate any consideration for traffic laws, it’s quite easy to get along on the roads.
Eventually we returned to the mainland and arrived at my apartment here in Alba Adriatica. While here we’ve been sun worshipping, eating fantastic meals and scheduling the next leg of his visit which will find us flying to Jerusalem on Tuesday and Istanbul on Saturday. The following leg of the journey is still up in the air.
Today, though, was a full day on lounge chairs under colorful umbrellas at a beachside resort. Occasional dips in the Adriatic cooled our parched flesh. Since my best friend is white as a sheet, he was out of the sun as much as possible. And since I’ve been tanning, it was no big deal to float lazily on my back with the water lapping my bronzed chest.
And as I lay there looking at the blue sky, I wondered. And I pondered. How fortunate am I? I made the trek to Europe to do genealogical research and everything fell into place. I could easily return to America, but why do it when my visa doesn’t end until November? With additional guests arriving throughout the summer and more places to visit, I want to stay.
I found myself thanking God for this opportunity. I found myself able to look at life a bit more clearly and realistically. As much as I love it here, life holds so many possibilities back home. If something were to work out here, I’d take it in a heartbeat. But I’m not upset at going home.
Is the life of an expatriate supposed to be this la dolce vita? I’m sure most expats are living differently. My situation is so much different. I came here knowing I would most likely return. I did not expect my genealogical research efforts to yield so much so soon.
And I certainly didn’t expect so many guests. I’m constantly updating my appointment book. Tomorrow I leave with my best bud for Jerusalem and later Istanbul, Sofia, Sarajevo and Dubrovnik before returning to Italy. Guests arrive in August and yet more in September.
As I considered all this out in the Adriatic, I flashed back to 1982 when I moved to Southern California. For the first two years I lived there, I hosted guests every month for two years. It helped me to acclimate to such a big change in my living environment. I always considered that God’s Providence because it prevented me from sinking into melancholy and returning to Oregon prematurely.
It appears the same thing is happening here. Even though I’m returning to Oregon, for the remaining time, I have the joy and blessing of hosting friends from home and playing tour guide. I get to show off my rudimentary Italian. I can suggest good restaurants and foods. I’ve always wished I could share my good fortune of knowing my heritage, meeting my family and reveling in my culture with my friends. And now I’m doing it.
There’s something mentally therapeutic about floating in that azure Adriatic. Perhaps I went back to an in utero memory. Whatever, this expat life has been a wonderful experience. I’m looking forward to my travels and my friends.