Premarital Bliss.

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Gosh, I was so scared to publish my last blog.  Though I poured my heart out in a comprehensive fashion, ONE single facet stuck me like a poison dart: The confession that I probably wouldn’t marry Giordano if I had money.  I felt so vulnerable offering that shard of my inner life up.

 

Then came the near-erotic thrill, the loss of control that is clicking “publish”.  Then Giordano’s eyes imbibing said confession.  He made his way deeper into this heart when he replied, smirking,  “So you’re marrying me for money?… I don’t have money!  Just one house from my family, who crush the ball every day.”

 

We both had a good laugh.

 

It’s true… If I was marrying a man “for money”, I made the worst possible choice.  Money has been so scarce lately, since Giordano has started engaging in the all-consuming task of picking olives.  It wasn’t until a few days ago that he found the time and money to purchase a cheap silver wedding band.  My adventures at the grocery store have been to the tune of “how much nutrient dense juice can I squeeze out of a twenty euro bill?”….

 

I am marveling at the power of raw, unfiltered honesty.  Saying the stuff that I am most scared to say… and POOF!, I am free. (Sometimes.  Other times I just get myself into relational trouble…)  It no longer festers inside me.  Like a thick fog, it silently screams as it sucks, hopeless, into the blazing Source of light.  I swear, after I posted my last blog, I softened deeper in love with Giordano.

 

Listen to this!….

 

I actually feel delighted to be marrying him.  Marriage feels like an unprecedented adventure.  One of those passages that must be lived through, fully felt and tasted.  Not just read about in a book, or heard tell of around a campfire.  (Or sipping coffee in mismatched reclining chairs with my Ma, as she recounted snippets of her two emotionally unsatisfying marriages, during what I didn’t realize then was the tail-end of her life…)

 

Am I just hella in love with him because I barely see him these days?… I have so much time to miss him..  And then he comes home like a sunkissed war hero, smelling of utterly tantalizing incense.  Seriously.  He’s the most deliciously scented creature I’ve ever encountered.  From the heat of his strong, active body, wafts a hypnotic synthesis of pheromones, pine and earth, fire and pristine alpine spring water, spilling from the heart of creation.

 

It always tickles when he says, “I can’t wait to hug in the bed.”  An american man would never say anything so charming.  It’s totally not an innuendo.  He just cherishes the simple pleasure of our warm, naked bodies entwined at bedtime.  I don’t think I’ll ever tire of his adorable italian translations.  Nor his innocent relishing of fundamental existence.

 

Giordano’s unwavering, rarefied, devotional love is healing me.  I didn’t realize how war-ravaged I was, after a five year affair with a married man, to whom I gave my whole self… and had a child with. (Three cheers for raw, unfiltered Life Experience!) The trauma of settling for Ed’s pathetic crumbs became a normalized experience in me.  Which of course stemmed from the glories of a having an emotionally immature father who prioritized world travel and eventually another family, over precious little me.  I am still discovering forsaken and shy territories of my heart I boarded shut in order to endure the pain of it all.  Slowly, they melt open in the sunlight of Giordano’s wildly imperfect, though incredibly sincere and miraculously steady love.

 

I’m also becoming a whiz at navigating his wounded little boy, (It is still hard work though!!!) which would indicate that I am loving myself pretty well…. Plus, learning/practicing emotional restraint.  I still go up in flames on the inside when he goes off the deep end emotionally, over what occurs for me as the pettiest shit.  I’m learning to breathe more and speak less.  And attune to his deeper needs and more subtle communication.  Hooray for me.  Seriously.  Though it will be heavenly when he graduates to the level of being able to advocate for himself with maturity and consciousness…. The fuckin Italians…. So damn emotional… and not a lot of personal growth courses over here….

 

One of Giordano’s strengths is bringing humor and lightness to otherwise suffocatingly dense moments.  My work is to soften into his invitation to laugh and let go.  Of course I reserve the right to hold on, punish and drive my point home when I feel like he hasn’t gotten the message or the medicine…. But mostly this hurts me more than him.  We ARE pretty comical in our heated moments.  Two giant babies flailing our fat little arms and stomping our squishy little feet.  Utterly riveted by our emotions and points of view.

 

Yeah, I’m really jazzed to be married!  I wanna see what this wife business is all about.

 

“GETTING” married on the other hand…. This is not such a thrilling facet of the jewel for me.  The Big Event goes down in three days.  I don’t have a dress.  I might just pull some halfway decent garment from my closet.  Giordano’s story is the same.  It’s supposed to rain.  We haven’t had the luxury of time to synch up and create meaningful vows together.  99.999% of my friends are far, far away.  I mean I managed to shake loose from the fever dream of my perfect fairytale wedding years ago… but THIS… my wedding day is shaping up to be the polar opposite.  Hopefully the event will make for a good story.  This is what matters most to me deep down.

 

I dedicated that last paragraph to self-pity!  It felt awesome.  But I DO want you to know that of ALL people in my world, my Cosmic Dad will be in attendance.  He will “give me away”.  An insatiable Sagittarius type, he just happened to be traveling through Europe, and swung our way to imbibe in the Hella Holy Matrimony. So I guess in reality, my glass is actually half full.  The man who has seen me through the course of my entire “adulthood” will be with me for this substantial rite of passage.  Whoopie.

 

I can’t wait to report back to you and divulge the dirty deets of my hella special day.  May it be an ecstatic, messy, perfectly imperfect Unfolding, colored by outrageous characters, intriguing nuance and mind-blowing realness.  Yee-haw!

 

Hella Holy Matrimony

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On moonday morning, Giordano, Serena and I drove into the Italian-er-than-Thou little town down the hill from our home, to submit our paperwork, in hopes of being awarded a date for marriage.  Legions of butterflies messed about inside me for myriad reasons. Reading bureaucratically persuaded websites is *not* my forte, so I wondered if we had all the documents required. One thing they HAD clarified at the US Consulate in Rome, when we visited a couple weeks ago (to obtain my sworn statement of single status), was that we must marry before my visa expires.  Which happens at the end of this month. Zoiks!

 

Our pilgrimage to the Wizard of Holy Matrimony required Giordano to miss a morning of work.  These days he is in hot and heavy preparation for a massive olive harvest. His head is nowhere above water in the way of tasks he must accomplish.  Come to think of it, I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered someone with so many dangling, disperate obligations. My mom at the end of her life, perhaps…

 

But the point is, the unwieldy pile of my Husband-To-Be’s searing tasks sure brings out some brassy notes in the man.  He already tends toward the anxious shades of the rainbow. As I drove our little white Fiat, “Penis Ray-Ray” along the twisty, one way streets into the center of the village, he spit aggressive, critical directions at me.   I don’t have much tolerance for this facet of him. As an empath, I too quickly get inflamed and agitated, and perfectly awesome moments are spoiled by excessive heat and unkindness.

 

We parked down a hill from the “Common”, and I held Serena’s hand as she made her way up the steep, cobblestone road.  Apparently we were not fast enough for Giordano and in his broken five year old fashion, he let us know (nagging, crabby mumbling, slicing insults).  In my world, we had plenty of time, as it wasn’t even nine o’clock (when the office opened). I was jazzed that Serena wanted to walk alone, as she often prefers, like a lazy, cumbrous Pygmy Queen, to be carried.

 

I have a lot to say still, so I’m gonna pick up the pace.  But what you must know, is that by the time we arrived in the stale-cigarette-scented foyer outside the matrimonial office, Giordano and I were not on speaking terms.  When the disarmingly kind and casual italian lady opened her pearly gate for us, we were like two repelled magnets. I wouldn’t even look at him.

 

We shelled out our paperwork and I was half surprised, half relieved, half mortified to discover that we had all we needed, and would be able to secure a wedding day.  Whoa. We asked for October 28th. Two days before my visa expires. According to my astrologically savvy friend Anitra, that is the smoothest, most palatable day available to us, given our restricted timeline.  They were reticent to work on a Sunday. But a hundred euros and a relaxed sphincter later, they agreed.

 

We stepped back out onto the street transformed.  

 

That sentence gets to be its own paragraph, because it definitely stands alone.  I am not quite sure of the “behind the scenes” energetics of the matter…. But it was a palpable shift to have a wedding date and time.  Thankfully, we were both softened. We stepped into an adjacent bar, and Giordano ordered us cappuccinos. I can’t get right with the culture of drinking such heavenliness standing up, in less that three seconds.  I savored spoonfuls of thick, decadent foam, while Giordano teased me for taking my time.

 

And for my next splendid, death-defying act, ladies and gentlemen, I shall bare my messy insides for you all to gawk at and secretly relate to.  

 

I never imagined that getting married would be strewn with such a wild swizzle of unruly emotions.  Repulsion, excitement, love, powerlessness, curiosity, fear, turn-on…

 

From my insider’s view, I can clearly see how much collective meaning “We” place on marriage.  It means “forever”. It means “so in love”. “Happily ever after”. “The One”.

 

It means none of that for me.  It’s more like, I am just doing what needs to be done to move forward on my cryptic Path through the billowing fields of Enlightenment.  I have been groping to come to terms with it all.

 

Would I marry Giordano if I was financially free?  Probably not. I am marrying him as a single mom who needs help, and he is the flawed Angel that God sent me.  I feel a primal fear in telling it so straight. But as a writer, slicing straight into unflattering truths is the verdant river valley of good writing.  

 

And honestly, no matter how flawed my Angel is, my bottom line is that he supports me in showing up on the page and singing out the unfiltered mess of my Existence.  Which is what I live for. And I guess that’s the heart of the matter for me. My soon-to-be-Husband understands and supports my dharma. Even if it means that he occasionally gets chewed up and spit out on the page.  He may act like a wounded little boy too often. But holding space for me to be my fullest expression as a writer, even at his occasional “expense”, is a powerful stand to take.

 

The density of my Life Material these days often feels unbearable.  Okaaay, that was dramatic. I have it great, in so many ways. But as a woman who aspires to sovereignty and full-throttle empowerment, this is a very confronting life to be living.  I struggle to find a powerful place to stand. I feel small in so many ways these days. Living in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language… Having few friends to commune with.  Marrying a man who I am constantly having to teach and train and tolerate.

 

I can never say that last bit without following it up by how loving he is.  Giordano is so genuinely invested in my (and Serena’s) happiness, delight and wellbeing.  For example, he went way the fuck out of his way yesterday to ask his Baby Mama if we could stay in her rental apartment in Assisi next weekend, so that I could partake in a yoga festival happening right across the street.  While he sweats and bleeds and cries, picking thousands of olives to press into oil…

 

I guess the moral of this story is that on the INside, it occurs like all I can do is surrender to my Path.  I have written recently about my perceived lack of choice in the matter of my life. Like I’m just stepping into what splays open before me, with as much dignity, joy and willingness as I can muster.  Squeeze as much Trust out of my nearly-empty toothpaste tube as humanly possible.

 

Trusting that all this is right.  Trusting that this is all Grace. Trusting that this is exactly what I need to evolve.  Trusting that these are the perfect conditions for me to blossom open AS LOVE and embody the Master that I AM.  Living in said trust is a tall order, as my life is NOT unfolding as I imagined it would. Not that I ever fully imagined my unfolding… But life as I know it has bled way outside the lines of Collective Conditioning.  It’s not the stuff that “Happily Ever After” is made of.

 

Thankfully, I AM the stuff that Happily Ever After is made of… If only I allow myself to relax into this unassailable ISness.  I suppose this is the hidden cheese, wrapped in the bitter pill of my life. Haha!

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A jog at the bottom of the sea

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Last night, to celebrate the full moon, we had a fire outside.  Like the citizens of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus, Giordano heisted “massive boulders” he found down the hill from our house and fashioned an impressive fire pit in our yard.  I gathered my crystals from around the house and brought them outside to soak up the lucid lunar rays.

 

I’m wild about men with primal skillz.  When the apocalypse is upon us, like who cares if dude can install the latest version of iPhoto on my computer.  (Though I SORELY need some help with that NOW… haha.) But Giordano is one of those men who can build and fix anything.  He made a mean fire.

 

Sharp autumn wind gusted in dramatic spirals, taunting and provoking our fire, sending its smoke and flames every which way.  At one point, the force of the wind was so fierce and constant, the fire growled like a blowtorch, and blazed florescent yellow like a newborn sun.  This was the moment that I poured my grief, confusion and heartache into the purifying flames. I had much to offer up.

 

This is why I have pilgrimaged to Athena Graceland on my hands and knees this morning… To write myself back into a state of wholeness and peace.  A feeling of deep discomfort has been taking increasingly articulated form and contour for the past week, as the moon has swollen.

 

I hope it’s a spiritual boon to break down like this… rather than a mild crisis.  Before leaving Ananda, I felt like I was going Somewhere: Building a business leading women’s circles, gestating an extraordinary podcast… and then I transported my and Serena’s life to a foreign land, where I can’t even indulge in the simple ecstasy of intimate, philosophically persuaded small talk with “strangers”…  or leave the house to go for a leisurely walk (The road outside is narrow, trafficy and dangerous to walk on. Plus, I left Serena’s fabulous, all-terrain stroller in California.) I feel like a Grimms Brother Princess, locked away in a tower.

 

Obviously, writing a book is my only salvation.  

 

As I move closer to the Realization of this extremely relevant and meaningful dream, I watch it turn to vapor and slip through my long, slender fingers.  I am perplexed as I search inside for a cohesive vision that equals a Book. I imagine this confusion is a form of self sabotage. A genius strategy for the unhealed dimensions of me to stay hidden and SAFE.  

 

Bah-humbug.  Seriously. Like whatever happened to the version of reality where I could simply merge with my computer, gush forth and pound out the inspired and integral streams of my Existence.  This is what I do. And have always done.

 

My “block” is the departure from simply “writing”, to developing a STRUCTURE, and then using my profound literary talent to fill it with FORM.  

 

In the words of the beloved little Engine That Could, “I think I can, I think I can, I THINK I CAN.”  

 

(OMG, I totally have to get that book for Serena…  An aside: It’s so depressing to have only a handful of books for my book-devouring Serena.  We left her collection in Cali. Frown. Plus there ain’t no libraries in these parts with books in english to imbibe…  If any of you are inspired, you could bless us with a rad children’s book by way of Amazon!…)

 

Did I adequately portray my existential angst to you?  I don’t think I did. But it’s been thick and filmy and arduous to endure.  Like going for a jog at the bottom of the sea.

 

At least things are improving with Giordano.  He still triggers the shit out of me pretty regularly… but it doesn’t feel like the end of the world.  We both bounce back from our fiery disputes impressively quick… and when we do, there is a deep love awaiting our return.  I imagine if I had other people around to meet my deep need for Quality Time (my primary Love Language), I probably wouldn’t get so swept away in the masturbatory eddies of hating his guts.  

 

Yesterday morning at the zenith of my suffering, I took Serena outside to forage nettles and red clover.  Misha the cat graciously tagged along. Like good old fashioned magic, the grief vanished. I dissolved in Presence, delighting in the aliveness of Nature all around.  Note to self~ when the discomfort becomes unbearable, (maybe even BEFORE), GO OUTSIDE. Go outside A LOT. Revel in the majesty of the sky. Sink into the soothing, rooted ISness of the earth.  Ugh. Except our harsh and cruel friend, Winter doth approacheth. BLAH. I never wanted to see Her color-drained face again. Jesus deliver me to the tropics.

 

Inside I feel a call to surrender my Life.  My dreams. My need to be “Somebody”… Be sincerely cool with the notion of stripping down to a state of unadulterated BEingNess.  This is subtly terrifying for me. Like if I relax my tremulous body in the uncharted waters of “Nobodyness”, I will die invisible and untethered from the execution of my Dharma.  This could be my deepest fear. One that ebs and breaks like a familiar wave on the sea of my Life Journey.

 

This surrender is not resignation.  It is a surrender woven with golden threads of faith.  Faith that it is impossible to outrun my Destiny. She is hunting me, and will inevitably devour me.  This achingly slow, no-woman’s-land is somehow essential preparation for my Glorious Becoming….

 

Life always moves along Her own mysterious and perfect spirals of Time.

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The Epic Battle of Selves

As many of you are aware, the relationship with my Italian Amore blew up again.  On moonday morning, Serena and I left his house in a calmly tremulous frenzy, taking refuge in the miraculous beneficence of Ananda Assisi.  There was so much beauty and magic in surrendering into the hands of God in this way. People rallied to help us find sanctuary.

 

My Cosmic Dad found us the cheapest ticket home, which was $1250!  He fronted the money, explicitly stating that he needed it back ASAP.  I wrote a vulnerable post on facebook, sharing my situation and asking friends to help us with financial contributions, as I was at the end of my modest “nest egg”.   I was floored by the money and love that poured in! And also blinking in amazement at how profoundly worthy I felt/feel, considering the mess I made, letting go of EVERYTHING (save my trusty old Subaru, “Venus Ray”) and flying brazenly into the intensely emotional arms of a twin flame with whom I already had a wildly questionable track record.  

 

And now for the dripping, tender meat of this story.

 

Yesterday morning, I was moved to get an early start, so we hitchhiked the short ride (lonnng walk) to the top of the twisty hill where Ananda is nestled.  To be outside, in the River of Life.

 

We easily got a ride from the first car that drove by~ a friendly older italian woman with blond hair and a sturdy frame swooped us up in her ancient red coop.  I delighted in the loving strain of our attempt to communicate, despite the language barrier. By the time she dropped us off at the entrance to Ananda, my heart was wide and beaming.  

 

As we ascended the path, we nearly collided with my wild-eyed Italian Amore.  OMG. I felt like a deer in the headlights. All my vigilance centers flashed red alert.  Desperately, I groped inside for discernment of what to do…

 

In the end, I hugged him.  Good lord. I FEEL this man.  Even amidst all the singing alarm bells chiming inside, mostly I felt relief to be joined again in embrace.  His eyes were swollen, red and moist from two days of crying. After the extended hug, I tried to keep my guard up as he began to persuade me to come back, forgive all, start fresh.  

 

I was solid in my NO, as well as my stance of love.  “I’m not open to discuss this,” I stated, “all you must know is that I am leaving, I forgive you and I love you.”  This felt right and clear to me.

 

We loitered together awkwardly in the parking lot for some time…. Not sure what to do with this “Holy Moment”.  And then his MOM drove by (on her way to work)! I hadn’t met her yet. She saw us from a distance and pulled over!  Freaking out on the inside, I hung back as he approached her car. But Desire pulled me to greet her, unsure of how Serena and I would be received.  

 

She embraced us.  Strong. I let her in.  And she me. She was a small woman with a wiry build.  Strong from a life of hard work (on many levels). She smelled mildly of cigarettes.  I saw that she had the same hands as her son and I took them both and held them close in ecstatic comparison.  She gushed over Serena and commented on how much she resembled Italian Amore’s own six year old son. They have very similar almond shaped brown eyes and deep-toned skin.  Strange…

 

Then, Italian  Amore met our mutual friend for breakfast.  I felt relieved that he was getting support.  Their communion was porous, and we all ended up being together.  She encouraged him to drive us to the airport on Saturday. He was stretched between desire and fear of more profuse “bleeding”.  I told him to sleep on it.

 

He invited me to come on Friday, to the meditation and breathing program put on by the spiritual healer he connected with mere hours after I gave him the boot from my Nevada City nest.  She has been energetically holding him since then. And me too, to some degree. I really want to meet her. She is such a pure ray of Source Energy. I felt the power and perfection in this closure.  

 

We parted ways.

 

But my body was aflame with unbearable desire all day.  I could only thing of making love with him. I ached to reach out.  I strained to have restraint. I prayed hard to God.

 

Around five pm, it began to rain as Serena and I made our way toward the little Ananda market, under a large purple umbrella, in search of food for dinner.  As I labored along with thirty pound Serena in my left arm, umbrella and purse on the right, he texted me, inviting us for dinner. Ahhhhh. The fierce inner tug o’war began.  I said no. Seconds later, the woman I am staying with texed, reporting that the market is closed for a holy day… Some major “Madonna”-related thing.

 

Well there was my answer.  He picked us up on the side of the road, and we drove straight to his father’s garden, where we tread the soft, rain-moistened, giving earth, foraging for everything delicious and good.  

 

The kittens were wandering about and Serena immersed in their fluffy, enchanted world as we gathered armloads of dinner.  At this point, I felt so confused by the twist of love and desire and choices… the front surface of my body was a gnarled mess.  I layed on the earth and begged Her to help me release fear and come hOMe to my Highest Knowing. I could feel Her against me, alive and willing.

 

I prepared homegrown millet and green beans sauteed in fresh olive oil and garlic.  I asked him to prepare a simple salad, but he kept getting derailed by his all-consuming pleas to get me to stay.  I felt so mixed up. I had been so sure that we needed to go. I enrolled my entire community in my situation, and they showered us in money love and prayers.  

 

But the pull of our magnetism is sooooo strong.  And Italy is so dazzling… We shared so many tender, unborn dreams….

 

Get this, people– BOTH of his parents called during the short time we were at his house, asking him how he was, and telling him NOT TO LOSE ME.  That I was the best he’d ever had, and don’t fuck it up. Whoa.

 

We let Serena watch an episode of Elmo’s World, while we went in the bedroom and made quick and exquisite love.  I came. He didn’t. By then it was getting dark. “Bath time” had come and gone. Though he wished we’d stay the night, he drove us home.  I was sure I needed to digest.

 

I sought my hella wise friend Joy’s council.  I chose her because of her impartial stance and vast, sober, embodied intelligence.  To my dismay, it became clear that still my innermost truth is to return to California.  I felt grief for this. And fear of my Amore’s impending CRUSH against his own internal craggy scapes.  

 

Now thursday is dawning.  I am sitting with the intense internal pressure of love and fear swirling aggressively inside me.  

 

God help him be at peace with my choice.  And choose to stay open to love. We had planned for him to take Serena to the playground this morning….  Lord knows what will happen when I tell him I am really going.

 

Oh the sands in the hourglass that are the Days of my Life……..

 

UPDATE:  I told him I am leaving.  He came over. Desperately trying to persuade me to change my ticket for a later date, and go to California together in the winter after he’s harvested his olives, made oil and gathered money.  OMG. I know that if we are to heal and thrive together, we NEED the support of a conscious, evolutionarily focused community. We can’t navigate our shadows together alone.

 

I don’t know what to do.  

 

The End.

 

Haha yeah right.  

This must be Italy….

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Yesterday was day 8 here in Italy, and it finally sunk in that we are here.  Before that, it was more like being at “Giordano’s house”… where the “extras” just happened to speak in mostly indecipherable, robust, ticklingly rhythmic tongues.  As soon as we dressed and ate breakfast, we piled into our little Fiat for an extended pilgrimage through the countryside, in pursuit of fresh, raw milk and cheese. While he was at work yesterday  his mamma blew up his phone (five times, to be precise), to report a source of organic raw milk at the farm just below her home, in the hills above Assisi.

 

My moon blood had just begun to flow- a sacred day I designate for rest and introspection (if such a thing is possible with a two and a half year old…).  I was not expecting the exxxtended amusement park ride along narrow, rutted gravel roads overlooking stunning, steep green and golden hillsides rolling across all space.  Turns out, he didn’t really know “the way”. All he knew is that the farm was “below the house of his mother”. My breath became involuntarily shallow, my body tense, after the gazillionth dramatic twist about the infinite span of ruined road.  I tried to let go and surrender to Giordano’s questionable leadership. But at some point, I lost it, and venomously begged to turn the fuck around and forget it. Nope. Driven by raw instinct (as he mostly is), he kept driving. Within a minute we pulled into the driveway of a massive stone house.  The kind you see in movies- sturdy rectangular boxes, with small, precise windows framed by wooden shutters. The surrounding land, lush, green and laden with friendly trees, spilling offerings of fruit and shade. Three happy country dogs greeted us, and called to their Master.

 

He emerged from the fairytale house, unkempt brown hair and overgrown beard flying everywhichway.  He was slender, with a hint of pot belly and posture that whispered the tale of a life of hard-assed, though gratifying labor.  Giordano got out of the car and greeted him. I could pick out a few Italian words… I think he said that he was the son of Raphaella, and she had told him they had raw milk for sale?  Eventually, he gestured for me to get out of the car. I unbuckled Serena from her carseat, and greeted the warm-hearted farmer. A voluptuous woman with pale, maudlin blue eyes, wide awake baby on her hip emerged from the house.

 

Together we ascended the stone stairs and crossed the threshold into a darkish, cozy kitchen.  It felt intimate and brimming with life. Serena immediately spotted the baby’s bouncy seat, and brazenly demanded to climb in and press all the musical buttons.  Into the kitchen wandered a little boy, not too much bigger than Serena, wearing only a t-shirt. Rippling streams of Italian conversation filled the small kitchen as I stood receptive and shy.

 

They gave us tiny cups of their homemade yogurt to sample.  Then the man and his pants-less boy escorted us through the charming, wild garden to a dark barn, guarded by a silver horse.  Giordano fed the majestic guardian one of the fallen apples he had foraged for the cows on our walk through the garden. In the barn, five cows eagerly licked the remnants of their breakfast from the feeding trough.  Giordano offered them the remaining apples, which they gladly devoured. Their udders were small and freshly emptied. I petted each of their wide, soft faces, marveled at their massive strong bodies and wondered how I can eat beef and live with myself.  

 

We left the barn and meandered around the back side of the house, into a basement room, where giant slabs of dead pig hung from the ceiling.  Our kind host showed us a hutch filled with rounds of homemade cheese. But not enough to sell, they said.

 

Back in the house, our host offered us coffee, “strong enough for Mexicans”.  As I was neither Mexican, nor in need of excessive jacking up, I declined. Giordano accepted.  The ample, lactating queen of the castle brought us a large plastic water bottle filled with that morning’s milk, which they insisted was a “gift”.  We schmoozed a bit more before exchanging friendly goodbyes. “Ciaos”, actually.

 

The drive back to the main road didn’t seem nearly as long and daunting.  

 

Not too far down the main road, we arrived at a (relatively) more commercial  farm, where Giordano bought some fresh mozzarella and ricotta. Serena was thrilled to see long lines of holstein cows fiercely committed to munching massive piles of hay.  The smell of cow shit filled the warm, humid air.

 

We hopped back in our little Fiat (who runs on propane) and traversed more windy roads, in pursuit of MORE CHEESE.  Haha. This time it was another family home. A friendly man with a full, grey beard, shining eyes and strikingly short denim shorts greeted us, along with two small, eager dogs.   He and Giordano exchanged some friendly words and then the man led us into his kitchen, which was flooded with sweet, buttery aroma. A woman with short, grey hair, joyful eyes and a german accent greeted us.  Monica. Though she wasn’t “fat”, her “extra” suggested her love of baking and partaking. She was rolling out greasy cookie dough. Her teenage daughter, exuding a modest presence, sat at the far corner of the table, spreading some kind of chocolate goo on toast, making intermittent crunching music.  

 

Serena was dying for a cookie.  To my relief, they weren’t ready yet.  Poor thing. I wish I’d never let her eat a cookie… or even watch a show in which they ate cookies.  Because Pandora’s box is officially OPEN.

 

I felt my aura tucked close to my body as I spoke with effulgent Monica (in english) about simple things like her love of baking, her grandchildren in Germany, her daughter’s longing to get a nose piercing.  She pulled a small, homemade calendar from the wall and beamed as she showed us photos of her children and grandchildren. She promised Serena a raincheck on cookies, which she even threatened to deliver to our doorstep on her way to town one day.  

 

We eventually left with a huge round of sharply scented sheep cheese.  

 

The heat of the day was now upon us.  Our meandering morning outside of time suddenly came to a jarring halt.  We still had an errand to run in the town of Assisi. I felt hungry and aware  that Serena’s nap time was approaching faster than was convenient.

 

Hence we embarked on another epic leg of our day’s journey, which included driving through the stunning center of Assisi (OMG, I can’t believe I live a stone’s throw from such an ancient, mythic “destination”), spending “hours” in a massive store, in (fruitless) search of a mosquito net to protect us as we sleep (Serena is getting devoured every night and my heart aches each time I look at her sweet face, dappled with inflamed, red bumps.)  Exiting the belly of said store, ravenous. Resigning to eating lunch out, even though money is feeling uncomfortably scarce. Climbing to the highest hill in Assisi, to a restaurant overlooking the Whole World, owned by two brothers who press Giordano’s olive oil. Everything in their restaurant is organic, and mostly grown and made by them. Even the flower in the hearty, country bread and pungent, buttery blue cheese.

 

I could write a whole story about lunch.  But I don’t feel like it. My body craves yoga.  And the moral of this story, is that in Italy, “going to get milk and cheese” is not a minimal, colorless endeavor.   It is a weighty, relational Happening, which requires half a day and fully awakened senses.

Let it be noted.

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