I often look at travel as a way out of my head, a chance to escape my own reality and be immersed elsewhere. I often look to be confused, get lost in the unfamiliar, not know the plan because there is no need for one. This time, though, I needed to travel to find a way back to myself.
I've been teaching for over two decades, and each spring, I find myself surprised at my exhaustion, at my desire to simply stare into the sky for hours, scanning for glimpses. Inspiration and motivation mere wisps. Each spring, towards the end of the semester, I swear I should video myself so I could replay it the following year--evidence that this occurs and passes. But that would take time. Effort. These fall away gradually until early May.
Escape. This time Italy. The nature I'd been missing, the breathing of expanse. Hills of Montepulciano held my stare, helped me remember to pause. Be present.
I stopped listing all the things that hadn't happened--the declines from submissions, trips canceled due to health issues. Instead, I chose grateful--publications, trips, friends, a good life.
And when I forget, get caught in the busyness of life, I have this, carried back from the streets of Lucca. Instead of a quick button push on my fancy coffee maker, I sip one cup at a time, carefully made, cleaned in between. I listen for the hum of the perk. Wait for the heat to cool a bit.