I hesitantly approach the driver and ask in English when he anticipates we will arrive at the airport. His response is a hissed: “dieci minuti”!!!
I return to my seat and take a slow deep breath. My first instinct is to scream in frustration considering I have no idea where I am or where I could find a cab in this neighbourhood. I’m angry at myself for allowing this short-fused man in blue polyester to alter my eagerly awaited, joyful day.
I am sure that if I show my impatience he will find a reason to postpone his scheduled departure time even further. I give myself a private two-minute lecture on the power of positive thinking, and try meditating to calm my nerves.
And the result of my ‘OHM’moment?
An irrepressible urge to strangle the little twit perched behind the wheel – a result which suggests I need just a little more practice on my meditation technique.
After a painful fifteen minutes, Mr. Happy Pants leaves the station and we arrive at the airport a full two hours after I left home and thirty minutes after Haithem and Eric’s plane was due to land. Racing frantically to the arrivals section of the terminal, I find to my delight that their plane is delayed. I position myself centre stage at the arrival gate, my wide expectant grin matching the joy in my heart. Less than three minutes later I spot the beaming face of my belovedHaithem and Eric’s wide friendly smile. We embrace as if we’ve been apart for years, when in actuality it’s been only four weeks.
We spend the next four days immersed in a whirlwind of activity. Museums, shopping, and long walks fill our days. Each evening sees us devouring the scrumptious local cuisine paired with bottles of glistening red wine, dissolving with the joyful continuous laughter only close friends share.
As we say good-bye at my garden gate, tears fill my eyes. I hug Haithem extra hard while Eric loads the suitcases in the back of the taxi. While knowing I’m fortunate to have friends here for this brief four-day visit, I’m feeling confusion and a conflict of emotions surrounding my new life in this foreign yet familiar country. It will be months before I see them or any of my family and friends again, and although I’m so comfortable and contented living here, I dream of living two separate yet parallel lives. One is in Canada with my family, friends and all the comfort and security of my Canadian life, and the other in Italy with Michelangelo, ancient rock walls, and the astounding beauty of Tuscany…