It has been almost six months since I last wrote. As I indicated months ago, I have not felt the need to write. I get requests to keep this blog going, but living an ordinary life in Portland, Oregon is not, to me, particularly interesting. Perhaps if I were featured in an episode of “Portlandia”, I might have something to say. That won’t happen as the show is ending.
I should mention that I lost a family member that I recently met in Europe. My beloved cousin, Zenovyi died on our Christmas day in Lviv, Ukraine. For anyone who followed this blog during my year in Europe, you might remember him.
For those of you unfamiliar with him, well, I met him in Ukraine as I searched for my Polish/Ukrainian heritage in Lviv, Ukraine. His son, Viktor lives in Lviv and was only about two miles from where I was staying in the same city. Viktor and I met and he told me his father was anxious to meet me. They had known for decades of family members in North America, but most of those who had kept in touch had died so they had given up hope of meeting anyone.
Then I showed up.
He was the sweetest man. At 85 he had survived five bouts of cancer, the death of his daughter at a young age, Stalinist purges, WWII, collectivization, Communism, the death of his wife and a leg amputation. Yet he was the friendliest, most jovial person who could ever hope to meet. He was so glad to meet me because I answered many questions he had about the grandfather he never knew (an attribute we both shared).
He had questions about the people behind the letters that his late mother had kept and which he now had. I was able to answer them all. He and his family were astonished that I would quit my job, liquidate my possessions and move to Europe just to find them. I just shrugged!
His granddaughter told me that he died happily, glad that he had met me and knowing that I would “be a brother” to his beloved son. He had his questions answered and was fulfilled by that. It made my heart sing knowing that I was able to give him that closure.
As I write this, I am sitting in the airport in Frankfurt, Germany. This is my first trip back to Europe since my return to America in November of ’14. I cannot believe I have already been back in Oregon for eighteen months. Longer than I spent in Italy. It bothers me, to know that my life in Europe is fading so quickly into the past. But I am heartened to be back in Europe, even if only for seventeen days.
I will, of course, visit Italy. Of course, I will spend most of the time with my family. But I am also looking forward to making a pilgrimage to the little seaside town I called home so I can visit the places that became comfortable and familiar to me during my short stay.
I have to admit that I have been dreading returning to America–even before I left for Europe! I miss the life I had. I miss the spaghetti restaurant I visited scores of times. I miss the kebab shop down the street and I miss the pasticceria with the sensational eclairs.
Yet it gives me a constitution, something to shoot for while I’m in America. A goal to reach–to ultimately return to Italy for good.
Ukraine is on my itinerary, too. Funny, but even Lviv feels like home for me. I’m anxious to savor the multitudinous coffee houses and swoon over the architecture again. And I’m anxious to see my relatives and my old host, expatriate Ed.
Yeah, it’s gonna be a good trip. Something to remind me of why I’m working so hard.