When our plane touched ground in San Francisco, I had feelings of great anticipation. I was energized and had a plethora of ideas for my company and myself. I was sure that I had brought life in Italy back with me and was determined to infuse it into all that I did.
The plane pulled up to the gate and I looked outside…at a view I had seen many times before…South San Francisco. There were no old buildings…outlines of farms…. olive trees. There was a lot of cement…. a lot of …well kind of a lot of blah. The girls and I glanced at each other and I said, “well, we are home…. welcome home!” I said with a forced smile. They both looked at me with the same expression…”ya, welcome home.”
As we stood in line at customs, we were reveling in the ease of life in our own language…. “Almost seems boring to understand everything”, Emily snickers. I smiled and continued to try to take it all in. It wasn’t long before we were summoned to a customs agent. He diligently checked our documents and asked us if we had a good stay in Italy. “Yes!” the girls blurted out as he passed back our documents, smiled and said, “Welcome back to the United States”. We smiled politely and softly murmured “thank you”. We then made our way out of the restricted area….in silence.
As we approached the luggage carousel, the girls spotted their dad. In a flash, I was alone…. watching for our luggage…staring at the carousel…trying desperately to escape this sense of loss. My head slowly began to drop when I felt a soft tap on my shoulder…it was Chris…my other half….it had been months since I had seen him. Immediately, a sense of relief enveloped my being and my smile returned..it was good to be back…yes I was sure…it was good to be back.
The girls went home with their dad from the airport. After six months of being together, we were suddenly apart…in what felt at the moment like a foreign land. Chris began to fill me in on the happenings in the Napa Valley but my mind began to wander…..”everything is so dry here…so colorless……this is weird….even the sight of the City is not stirring my soul…wow..this is not good…I need to snap out of this. ” No matter how good the Napa Valley scoop was, I could not help but think about our friends in Firenze…what time it would be there and what they might be doing…. or what we would have been doing at that time. I felt myself slipping into silence…and Chris did the same.
As we approached the Napa Valley, my soul began to stir. I looked around at familiar sites and began to breathe again. My anticipation grew as we passed Yountville and Oakville….and Rutherford…there it was..the store…still standing…looking good….and there it went. Chris was not about to let me check in quite yet. As we approached St. Helena, I became genuinely excited…to see our dogs, our family and our friends…and to resume life….back home.
The next several months were spent adjusting. Walking everywhere didn’t last long…. the journals were soon put to rest…and books went unopened on the bedside stand. Work had become a center of my existence once again. I was consumed with learning everything about the beauty industry as I developed our new concept, Napa Valley Bath Co. I developed over 30 bath related products, re-packaged some of our food products and became obsessed with the weck jar. I created new blogs, hired writers, and visualized what was to come. I re-set both stores, turned over 50% of my staff, and had the strongest holiday season ever. I was on a roll…and running fast to stay in control.
My strongest revelation during our journey in Italy was that I was not in control…and how beautiful that was…and yet here I was now…a world away from where I was five months ago and right back where I was a year ago…in control….in control, tired, and sick…pneumonia this time. Forced bed rest always gets me to slow down..at least for a bit…and this was no exception. So I laid in bed…with not much to do except contemplate my fate….and it came to me quite clearly… I had to get back…to that place where I was last July.
On December 26, I packed my bags and antibiotics and we boarded a plane bound for Firenze. The girls were excited to be back in our flat, see old friends and visit old haunts. I was eager to ge back to find me…the one I left behind…and bring her back…for good this time.