If not now, when?

One American woman. Twenty acres and a 1650 farmhouse in Tuscany. Random introspection and hilarity, depending on the day.

02 June 2006

Neither here nor there

The Old Soul said it to me once, in the context of a work situation (where we were hot and sweaty and tired and hauling stuff while our clients were showered and dressed and gliding off to evening dinner engagements): "It's not very often it's this obvious, but there is definitely an us, and there's a them."

And, you see, that's the funny thing here: there is, most definitely, an 'us and them' and I am neither.

Neither "villa owner" nor "contadina" (farmer)

Neither city-dweller nor truly rural.

Neither permanent, nor just-passing-through.

Neither laborer nor elite.

Neither Italian nor tourist.

I am welcomed into the kitchen at my local "contadini" restaurant like family. Both Friday and Saturday nights I will be dining -- quite elegantly, I'm sure -- as a guest at two different villas, amongst fascinating people who could buy-and-sell me in a heartbeat. In my most honest of moments, I will confess that while I play a damn good game in both, I am not truly comfortable in my skin in either world. It is disquieting and liberating all at the same time to feel as if you belong somewhere, but not truly with anyone -- or perhaps, a little bit, with everyone. Complicated things, souls are.

Halfway down the stairs
Is a stair where I sit.
There isn't any other stair
Quite like it.

I'm not at the bottom,
I'm not at the top;
So this is the stair
Where I always stop.

Halfway up the stairs
Isn't up and isn't down.
It isn't in the nursery,
It isn't in the town.

And all kinds of funny thoughts
Go running round my head:
"It isn't really anywhere!
It's somewhere else instead!

(A.A. Milne)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember Viaggiatore (or should I say Grasshoppa), you are a self proclaimed traveling animal, more wolf than sheep. When you shake free of the old flock you just give yourself the opportunity to expand into a wider, but maybe not as deep flock (for now). The connections you are making in your Italian home and through this blog are taking hold and give you a place - a position - even a title, "Viaggiatore," in all of our lives. I'm reading you everyday now and loving it.
Chinny Up - Love Yaaah
Mary Ann

7:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The art of truly living is to be able to live and blend anywhere.
There are so many people that just can't fit outside their little world. Kudos to you!

2:34 PM  
Blogger ElleStarr said...

It is a testament to depth of personality to be able to seemlessly fit into juxtaposing groups.

Holy crap. I have to lay down now. That was a lot of big words and I'm sort of dizzy now.

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being able to span two cultures, two groups, and be partly in and partly out is as much a blessing as it is a feeling of dissonance. Whenever I find myself upset that I'm not quite one and not quite the other (in my case Jewish/Christian) I remember that my relative familiarity with both helps each side understand the other.


7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This earth of ours gets smaller and smaller largely because of the brave and daring souls like you who step outside of their comfort zones and reach out to people who don't look, think, act, or speak like they do. Think of yourself as a builder of bridges, a creator of tolerance and understanding, a woman with a mission...

Without people like you who willingly bridge the distance between two cultures, there would be little understanding of the world beyond our own front doors. Consider yourself an ambassador to both places you call home. Learn, learn, learn and then pass it on. I, for one, am definitely better for the wisdom (and wit) that you share!

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome to my world. You are not alone.
tvb Lroy

12:47 AM  
Blogger Cynthia Rae said...

I wanted to send you an email, but found no address at expats OR on your blog. I just wanted to say that it was really nice to meet you yesterday.

I'll save the space on your comments for now, but (if you want) send me your email.

Ciao for now!

4:31 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

Soon-to-be felow "foreinger" in Italy here. Just discovered your blog and I'm sure I'll be checking in regularly to get doses of wisdom ;)

Can't wait to read more.

9:02 PM  

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