Is there ever a right time?

 (out of these two free writes came two intertwined posts, so here they are together.)

Day 9: The Clouds

I could look back on my life and map it out in phases: during that time, I was clouded. And there - that is when the clouds parted. Over and over again in fluid cycles.

Knowing, and not knowing.

Seeing and not seeing.

Cloudy and clear.

I was writing the other day about the clouds of infatuation.

How blinding they can be.

The cloud eventually clears - and what are you left with?

Something good?

Or were you too clouded?

Was it just sex? Were you just lonely?

And now that it's clear - there is actually nothing of substance.

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I am writing this under the clouds hanging over the Tuscan hills. I first came to these hills when I was in a complete fog.

6 years ago, suspended in the cloud of "divorced".

It was lifted here in this countryside.

Everybody here is still.

They don't need anything.

You can JUST BE when you are here.

No need for conversation, unless you want.

Nothing to do.

If I pass you by, I might wave or I might not.

Everyone is here for something, and that is revered.

Drink the wine, bathe in the oil, take siesta, ask for what you need - that is all that is expected.

All of the life here -

freshly pressed olive oil from 500 year old trees

yesterday's fermented grape juice from ancient vines

just-picked basil

leftover bread, stinky cheese

ripe, juicy plums, figs, and apricots

puppies, white horses, geese, kittens

they all found there way here, just like me

cherry jam from the orchard's trees

clear water, a cold swimming pool

a cold shower, naked on the hill

-brought me back to life

This time I am here.....looking for what - I don't know. Just happy to be home. I am here as a friend, as a guest. a nice change from working as I have the last few time. We all dine together outside - me, my dad, Paolo, and the two new girls. One named Navina - a beautiful blonde from Latvia. Another named Winnie - she has glistening black skin and comes from Kenya.

Paolo has a glass of wine and goes to bed. The girls and I sit up, finishing the jug of wine by candlelight, with my dad sitting - silent, but listening. I'm sure confounded by the depth and connection of females. We have just met but already we are talking about marriage, divorce, Obama, female genital mutilation, the power of women, the importance of travel, and what we hope for the future.

They say that normally guests eat on their own. I said that I felt special then, to have dined with them. They say, "Yes - you are family."

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Day 10: TIME

This morning I woke up with all the time in the world. Wandered into the kitchen to find Paolo trying to teach Winnie's daughter - a ten year old girl from Kenya - the Italian word for fork.

"Fork - forchetta. FORCHETTA. Now tell me what is it in swahili?"

I don't know how to make coffee. Paolo heads back into the field to prune. He doesn't drink coffee (or eat meat) and there has always been someone around to make it. First it was Kyle, the boy I worked with here 6 years ago. He went to Yale and was taking a summer break here before heading to Sienna for a semester abroad. He spoke perfect Italian, but when he spoke English - it was with a southern drawl as he grew up in Georgia. He would make it and then hand it to me saying, "Here's a cup for you to basterdize" while he begrudgingly passed me the milk and sugar.

We stayed up late talking in the kitchen by the light of an oil lamp. Playing cards, telling stories, writing in our journals, composing postcards to friends.

I never saw him again after our time here. I sometimes wonder if he was even real.

My next time here - Alexandra made the coffee. She is from Romania and speaks perfect Italian and good enough English. She wanted all of my english music and movies that I had stored on my laptop. Before I left, she secretly stuffed my suitcase with tins of oil, jars of jam we had made together, and jugs of wine. I stuffed her nightstand with the English books I was reading, inscribed from me to her, with love.

This time - she is here again. She makes me coffee and tells me about motherhood. She had her first baby since the last time I saw her. She tells me Paolo has sold this place and I couldn't breathe.

This place is home.

I didn't know it had sold. What if I hadn't made it back?

How lucky I am with this perfect timing - to be here one last time without even knowing.

I feel ecstatic and grateful, lost and heavy. Very sad.

The thought of - what if I hadn't come back? Reminds me of the feeling you might have when someone dies unexpectedly and you had so much you meant to say.

I need to find a moment alone to cry.

But first - pranzo. Lunch.

Alexandra is done working at 12, but stays later so we can make lunch together. Her baby is beautiful and already bilingual.

Afterwards I excuse myself and hike up to the swimming pool.

I thought I had time.

I thought I had my whole life to keep coming back here.

I thought Paolo would die and secretly leave this farm to me. He has no children of his own.

This whole year has been the end of cycles for me. The feeling of transition as I sense a big shift coming.

How symbolic this is. That I came here for the first time, clouded. Lost.

And now it is going away, just as I am found.

All is as it should be.

But still, I weep.