What’s the most time you’ve ever spent apart from your favorite person? Tell us about it.
I was in Italy. Well, first I was in Michigan, then I was in London, then I was in Italy, back to London, back to Chicago, and home. I was gone nearly 4 weeks. It was a Sustainability Tour of Tuscany. It was absolutely divine. But I was gone, away from my beloved Petey Pie. So, we had to establish some ground rules.
First, let me begin by expressing how astonished I am that I haven’t taken the time to write about this experience in this venue. Granted, I started this space a few years after I took the trip, I just would have assumed I had done enough retrospective writing that this amazing opportunity would have been included.
Alas, I cannot find proof, so I will begin anew with this veil of thought. How did this trip effect me and my favorite? What did we do to overcome the distance.
It must have been April of 2006. I was on the heals of figuring out that my goal in life is to, “educate people on the importance of a sustainable society.” Once I figured out this focus, it seemed like everything fell into place. shortly afterwards, PSU announced a “Sustainable Urban Development” minor. Classes were popping up everywhere – specific to my interests! I was able to find so much opportunity, and then, I saw the advertisement for the “Sustainability in Tuscany”. It was a two-week study abroad that studied the ins and outs of an agri-tourismo property near Siena, Italy – in the heart of Tuscany.
There was no way I could pass up this amazing opportunity. So, I applied, I scoped out loans, and I secured airline tickets. Soon, the date approached where I would fly out. In September, I was armed with my luggage, my cell phone, and my international calling card. First, it was Portland to Chicago. Cristi picked me up from the airport and drove me back to Greenville where I spent a few days with family. Then, it was back to Chicago to London. I spent a few days in London, walking the streets, exploring the museums, drawing in the park (Hyde), and learning the tube system.
Next, I was onto the smaller, Standsted Airport where I flew to Pisa. From Pisa, I was on a train to Florence then a bus to Siena. That was probably one of my worst travel days – ever. I had nearly missed connections, I ran out of money, couldn’t find my train, had difficulty finding the bus, and I got off at the wrong stop! At one point, I tearfully called my Petey Pie. Prior, we had been talking once a day. I was almost to Siena, but I didn’t speak the language and I barely knew the city where I was stranded! Very soon (maybe 45 minutes), I figured out the inter-city bus fare lasts quite a while. So, I just needed to wait for another bus. As soon as I was off the bus, the horrific uncertainty of the day was behind me, and I was walking the streets of beautiful Siena. I learned the most important Italian word (dove for where), found my hotel, and soon met with my group. After a few days in Siena, we embarked onto the rest of our journey at lovely Spannochia.
Here is where the rituals really began. There was one phone and one expensive internet connection. The phone was off the main entrance in a small booth with tiny wooden doors. If the doors were closed, you assumed someone was making a call, and you had to wait. Not only was I across the American Continent and over the Atlantic Ocean; I was also a 9 hour difference from home. I sketched out a chart of when I could call, and got in the habit of calling at 9:00 am and 6:00 pm. I would call, when my morning began, just as my Petey Pie was going to bed. Before dinner, I would surmise my days events just as he was starting his.
But, occasionally (twice maybe?), someone was using the phone when I was scheduled to call. And, my opportunity for calling subsided as I was whisked away to the day’s activities. When I had my nighttime call, my dear Petey Pie expressed sorrowful worry. I missed my check in! And, I am 9 time zones away! He can’t fix this problem!
As we were riding through Italy, all I wanted was to share this experience with him. I wanted to rent a little Fiat, and drive the windy, white lined roads through wine country. I wanted to get lost with him in the streets of Volterra as we both explored the various carvings and Estruscan ruins.
But, this adventure wasn’t for him. It was for me. So, we called twice a day while he fixed bicycles back home and I explored Italia.