After nearly two months of staying in Joseph and Maria’s spare room, I felt that it was time to go.
It had only been 6 or 7 weeks since I’d arrived at their doorstep.
A dishevelled wreck of a retired teacher going through a crisis, I was impulsive, a little grumpy and probably an utter nuisance. There wasn’t a singular moment when they asked me to leave, I just slowly started to feel like more of a guest and less of a friend stopping by. The evening meals that we’d share in their garden were once carefree affairs. We’d stay up drinking until the early morning, laughing at the mistakes we’d made in the past and wondering at how long ago all of this was. These meals grew shorter in duration as I became more restless and our conversations became less concerned with nostalgia.
Pretty soon we were all eating our meals at different times. We feigned excuses, made plans for the evening with Italian acquaintances and generally avoided each other at all times. It wasn’t until I heard Maria and Joseph in a heated argument one morning that I decided that it was probably time to go.
I had no intention of staying, if it meant that I’d be forcing a wedge in between two people that I really did love as if they were family.
When I told them about my plans to move South and find myself a home, they initially refused.
It came as a shock. I felt like I’d accurately assessed the situation, coming to the conclusion that I was the variable – the unwelcome member of the party that stepped into the dinghy and rocked the boat. They told me I was being silly and that I was welcome to stay as long as I wished. In their eyes I could see a glimmer of something though…I think it was hope. Hope that I would leave them to regain some sense of the equilibrium that they had lost when I arrived.
I packed my bags that night and planned my route.
I had no idea where I wanted to settle down, but I knew that I was in no rush. I’d just spent the last thirty years living in the same place, slowly getting stuck to my sofa at home, I was certainly in no rush to settle down again.
The length and breadth of Italy, that I had dreamt of travelling in my retirement, was spread out on a map on the bed in front of me. The entire country, complete with all it’s history and culture was at my disposal. Should I wish, I could travel across the country and drop down on to the Amalfi Coast, watching the aquamarine waters lap against the golden sands that have made that Eastern coastline a magnet for tourists and beach lovers. Alternatively, I could dive into one of Italy’s bustling cities and lose myself in the back alleys of an alien metropolis.
What I really wanted to do though was simply get away from the slightly toxic situation that I had found myself in and drive into the sunset.