I have been in a relationship with Italy for 20 years, almost half of my life.
We had a rough start and after the first year it could have dissolved into history. But I chose Italy again and again. Not because she was beautiful or romantic but because she asked a lot of me. It took a long time, many years, before I trusted that she wanted me. It took time to see that her demands were forcing me to build a framework for a new home.
Even then, as I began to connect with her, I did not understand the foundation that was forming in me. After almost a decade of commitment, when the relationship became a long-distant one, I was revisited in my own hometown by the sense of homelessness that had encased me when I arrived in Italy. Since then I have become a more devoted, albeit nostalgic, partner.
I understand that home will never be a place for me but a construction of relationships. Home is the architecture of those relationships with places and people. It is that web of love and struggle that calls me. In the most livable rooms that call me home, my soul is both protected and in demand.
In my love affair with Italy, like in most long-distance relationships, the meetings are fiery and the missing aches. If I were to make the leap and commit to a full-time partnership, there would be new and familiar challenges. Would the fire relax, retreat, rage? Have we nurtured a foundation that will endure?
These are the questions I sit with, in a room I often choose to sit in. It's a room filled with longing where the only view from a gaping window takes my breath away. And I warm my vision by the steady glow of desire.