I’ve been out of touch with my blog for a long time. During the 180 days of the academic year, working full-time and raising two boys is about more than I can handle. (Actually, from length of my to-do list and the utter shambles that are my closets, I technically have more than I can handle on my plate.) I often envision having a social life one day, one that's replete with elegant dinner parties or cocktail parties, but right now there isn’t much time for much else besides working, trips to Costco for obscene amounts of food (I have a teenaged football player son and another pre-teen son who's the biggest kid in his class), cooking (or trips through the drive-through during the week), ferrying boys to activities, and working in a little knitting. In an effort to escape this sometimes mind-deadening routine, I went on a trip to Italy last May.
This opportunity was organized by a Spanish teacher at my school who has lived in Italy, is married to an Italian, and still has an apartment and relatives there. Six high school students from the school where I teach spent time in the homes and school of high school students in the charming village of Romentino Italy. I stayed in Novaro, Italy in my co-worker’s apartment. It was an invaluable chance to see Italy from the inside out, not so much as a tourist, even though during our two-week stay, we did make day trips to Cinque Terre, Turin, and Milan spent a night in Venice and Rome respectively.
Since the trip was part of a rather unique educational exchange (arranged by one teacher, rather than a company specializing in such stuff), I had an opportunity to spend some time in a high school in Romentino, Italy. I expressed my interest in knitting to one of the English teachers there, and, before I knew it, we were off in her Smart car (no traffic lights, yeah!) to a knitter’s paradise—a huge discount yarn store. Yarn, in fact, is the only product in Italy that seemed to be a bargain—even with the weakness of the dollar at the time of my trip. For around 70 Euros, I was able to purchase yarn that would likely have cost me over $300 here in the states. Mohair, cotton and wool blends, hand-painted yarn, art yarn, lovely sock yarn were added to my stash and to the already groaning-at-the-seams suitcase I’d brought. Of course, I simply left behind a pair of shoes, some clothes, and virtually all of my toiletries to accommodate my treasures. The choices I made in this weeding-out process really illustrate my priorities.
There was one problem, though. With time changes, our grueling daily schedule—up early, go to school or jump on a train—and then walk, walk, walk, I didn’t get in much knitting. Tired, full, and drowsy in the evenings, I found I couldn’t knit a stitch without making a mistake. Gazing longingly at sunny piazzas and courtyards as I headed off to one activity or another with the group, I ached to return to Italy unencumbered by the necessity of touring or of keeping active teenagers out of trouble. When that day comes, I’ll rise in the morning, drink some strong Italian coffee, knit for a while, lazily do some shopping or visit a museum, stop for the requisite mid-day meal, and then sit in the afternoon sun and knit some more before an evening spent in a café. But for now, the school year is here, and I’m already up to my eyeballs in Gilgamesh essays and JV football games. Ciao, Italia . . .