I sit at the dining table, sipping upon a cappuccino. Milan’s summer heat is already pervading the flat, but a cool breeze manages to slide in from beneath the sheer cotton curtains and kiss at my feet (which are pretty beaten up from weeks of sandal-wearing and time spent mostly outdoors).

There are three days left of my visit and then nearly an entire day to spend traveling home.  It was about at this time yesterday that I felt that familiar urgency, that pervading awareness that this sweet time will soon conclude. I will be returning to my own life, and my sister will resume the course of hers.

We have already said goodbye to the other third of our tribe.  She had arrived early, and thus, left early.  Happy to have her here, sad to see her go.  She felt so small in our last hug before she hopped into the cab with her sleeping children at four in the morning.  It seemed that we needed more hours in each day (and perhaps an extra car), especially with so many children in the mix (how did our mother do it?).  Time together centered around kids was fun, splashing into, dancing and picnicking around the pool, as were the rare late or early hours where we adults had one another to ourselves (these moments stretched far).  To ease our minds of upcoming departures, plans were discussed for next year’s visit, this time in the  U. S.

Last Sunday evening we returned to Milan after a week in the Italian countryside.  An electric storm had begun to brew, beginning to sprinkle as we raced from car to flat, becoming a light pour as we munched on the margharita pizza my brother in law had delivered just in time for clean hands and faces, and watermelon sliced and chilling in the fridge.

We tag teamed to unload car two of children and bags, as a full downpour tamped down the day’s dust and heat still emanating from the stone buildings and streets. 


I have been told that this has been a more temperate summer.  Could have fooled me.  When in the city I’d be happy to shower three and four times a day.  In the countryside, I dive into the pool every few hours to keep some semblance of cool within my body. 

The five children of my sisters were watched over between the three and sometimes four of us.  We did not require anything special, our intent to spend our days as we wish they much more often were; simply, and together.  My nieces joked that their uncle M could be their Italian dad.  The kids came along on errands and journeys with each aunt or uncle as easily as their own parents. 

The two eldest came along with their Uncle M and me to Lugano, Switzerland one day for a Larry Carlton concert that was part of their outdoor summer jazz festival. Like many wonderful offerings in Europe, it was free, and did not disappoint.  We arrived early, enjoyed a picnic and walk along Lake Lugano and obtained good seats.  Friends from South Africa joined us and we conversed with an Italian ex-pat who is now living in Hawaii who reportedly made his way back to Europe especially for this event.  

My favorite thing was to arise early and enjoy the already if not still warm morning.  After stretching, some days I would read outside upon the wicker couch by the fig trees.  One morning I baked pretzel rolls, and another, cinnamon rolls. A couple mornings my sisters joined me for the sing song quiet of chirping birds and rustling leaves.  My internal clock for the first time ever has not fully adapted to these hours ten before my own.  A few days early on, I fell into sleep just as the sky began to lighten, and then into deep oblivion until little hands and voices or a cappuccino waved in front of my nose tempted me to up-and about-ness closer to noon than to early.

My suitcase never arrived.  Delta called and said that it was now officially “lost” and that I should file a claim.  I wrote them a note the next day when able to receive spotty Internet connection out in the countryside, and told them that it would have to wait until I returned home.  I did not come to Europe to spend my time dealing with the troubles of lost luggage.  So much for European glamour; my favorite pieces of clothing were in that suitcase.  The nice thing about being with family, is that swimming in your underwear is perfectly acceptable, and they don’t care that you are wearing the same leggings and tank top days and days in a row.  Those leggings kept the mosquitos off of my legs until we made it to a nearby town with time to spare and I purchased a skirt, swimsuit and another item or two to see me through. 

In two hours we will meet up with my sister, so I suppose it is time to conclude for now.  There are more stories of festivals, small scrapes, splinter removals, amazing meals at family friendly restaurants, the best gelato there ever was, sharing goggles, bonfires and barbecues, picnics, parks, soccer, lizards and fireflies, giant spiders, weed-wacking, bedtime stories, guitar music and festivals, interesting art and chalk art, bottling and imbibing in excellent wines, laundry drying in the wind, a colleague staying with the children for adult night out to Bvlgari, drawing countless principessas, talent shows, all these and more will have to last us a year until we gather again to repeat and add to…  In the meantime, we do have three days yet to make the most of, so ciao for now, with love.

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3 Responses to Bittersweet

  1. muumol says:

    How beautiful! Thanks for sharing:)

  2. Kathy Ross says:

    I don’t always leave comments when I read your lovely musings but I wanted to thank you for that window into your time in Italy. It sounds like you had a wonderful trip (luggage excluded…literally!) and your sister tells me the same. As always, I appreciate the quality of your writing and the imagery you invoke. You are a talented lady.

  3. Maggiemwatts says:

    Smiling…though tears hang at each corner of my eyes…wish we lived closer! Nice to have some memories written down! Thank you!

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