I can hardly remember August ending. It faded away, swept right out the door. What happens to August when it disappears like it always does, the magic of a summer taking flight? I barely noticed it this year. It’s September now, and after three days of endless packing, last minute gifts, yesterday’s early morning CoVid test, a few frantic calls to my dad — it feels like I’ve lived a lifetime of September already. At a very early 4:30 this morning, we walked out the door, luggage all lined up, Cardamom looking up at us, just sitting and staring, her whiskers twitching. As if maybe she knew already that I’d be leaving for a while.

View of Macerata’s main square

Well I wouldn’t say it’s a while — it’s not much time at all actually. This whirlwind trip — all nine days of it — already feels like it’s coming to a close even as it’s just about to begin. I have been picturing so much of it in my head  — those first hugs with family, driving down the highway toward my brother’s house, or just seeing Chicago below me, all lit up, on that final descent into O’Hare. And I see the days pass, the flight back, getting back to Ancona as if I’d never left at all. I wish my brain would just let me enjoy the time — moment by moment — rather than filling up my mind with endless worries.

No such luck of course. Thursday — my first full day off and my last full day in Italy — crammed all of my last minute moments into one entire 24 hours. We started at six in the morning, straddling the line between nighttime and morning, chasing a light pink ribbon of sunset just along the horizon, all the way to Civitanova for my PCR Covid test (which took place, incidentally, on a bus), and once that was done, there were errands to run, gifts to get. I spent the late morning and the whole of the afternoon driving from Antonello’s factory over to all of the shopping malls in the area (there are two), searching for a gift for my niece Miriam, who turns 15 in October and is not the easiest to shop for. I looked everywhere, not knowing where to start. Clothes? Jewellery? Fancy Italian notebooks? Chocolate? Finally I headed into Macerata, I parked just outside of the city center, and I marched right up into town.

But up in Macerata, it was too early to look for a gift for Miriam, or to get the other things on my list, so I stopped staring worriedly into shop windows for a little bit and I just wandered. It wasn’t too hot out, the sun was shining, and the bars were quiet, in the early afternoon. It was past 4 already, but shops that were supposed to be open were all closed still — their summer hours still posted on the door, faded to a dull gray. In August, Macerata had felt like a different place: a busy bustle of people — with the opera at the Sferisterio, and music in the streets, and the clink of coffee cups and wine glasses at the sidewalk cafes. Now in September, it felt like role reversal — once August was the month when everyone abandoned the city in favor of the beaches, but not this time. Now it was September, with its windswept squares and quiet corners, that was still dreaming of August. I stopped and took a picture of the square: of the church and the clock tower and these leftover moments. I said my goodbyes to the quiet streets, to the sound of my shoes on the cobblestone, to the whisper of September that was just starting to be heard.

But now none of that is important. It’s Friday, finally, and I’m on a flight to Munich, flying over the mountains and their snow capped peaks, rocky and grey, sturdy underneath whispy cotton clouds. There are shadows in the crevices of the rock, making everything look bigger as we go — or maybe it all is like that: these massive blocks of solid stone. Valleys as green as can be. Rivers and towns folded into the countryside, hidden away from everyone, except for me. I can’t help but think of Antonello — why can’t he be here too, by my side? — and of little Cardamom scampering around the house at 4 am this morning. I miss them already. It’s this in between, being so far away from everywhere — from Macerata, from my family, from August and the days to come — but being so so close, too. Right here, high above everything else, and just hours away from home.

Today I’m listening to: Homeward Bound by Simon and Garfunkel.

Mountains from my window

Published by Jackie in Italy

I'm living in Le Marche Italy. It's 2020 and we're all on lockdown (update: still blogging even though lockdown is over). Welcome to my blog.

4 thoughts on “Homeward

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