It seems that the lesson I’m learning most in life lately is that nothing is ever the same way twice around. Returning to a place of loved childhood memories is never going to be quite as you remembered it to be, and everything looks a lot different, yet somehow unchanged at all. Slowly I have returned to some of these special places this year, and realized that perhaps our younger minds had a bit more creativity, bigger eyes and a glorified idea of how life is compared to an aged mind. In this case, returning to my cousins home town in Italy, I received the same feelings. Everything looked smaller, yet the same size. The beaches were not filled with hundreds of children giggling as they run from their parents and into the ocean,or playing soccer until the sun sets as I remembered them to be, yet the same summer feeling was still lingering everywhere. I had somehow never noticed the hills in the background of the town, perhaps because I was always too small to see over the buildings. The things that stayed the same were the love and importance of family that I feel when I return to this beautiful place, and the comforting smell of my cousin’s house. It has always smelled the best out of any where I have been to, and upon walking into the familiar scent, the memories attached to it flowed into my mind. I suppose I did walk into this week hoping the memories would recreate themselves perfectly, but I’m happy that they have not. Even though the town was not what I expected, it is still magnificent in a sort of new yet familiar way. I would say that upon returning, I have been pleasantly surprised, with an adventure to explore the town with new eyes.
Life is very simple here in it’s off-season. At 7 am, you wake up, eat some cookies with jam, drink some tea, and go for a walk at the beach. 8-8:30 am is when you arrive at work. From 12 am-2 pm, you would take a lunch break, where you would not order the quickest meal you can and rush back to work, but sit down with friends or family and a glass of wine to enjoy three courses of exquisite food. Then you would return to work until 6 pm, when you come home to enjoy time with family, cooking a wonderful meal or another walk around town. If you were to see what the beach looks like at any given hour of the day, you would wonder if anyone worked in this town. There is nothing to be rushed here as everything is enjoyed in leisurely time, as life should be, and even the suggestion of being on an expected time schedule is insulting to the culture. People here have learned something every person should: you must work to live, not live to work. Nothing here is ever an extravagant, impulsive, unnecessary purchase, instead purchasing things that fit a functional purpose when you need them. Quality over quantity is certainly the highest importance, and while people of this culture aren’t always rich in household items as some other cultures are, they are much richer in happiness than most people I’ve met living in America. As my cousin said to me yesterday, “we don’t live a very rich life, but we love living a happy life, which is much better. All you need is a good plate of food in front of you at night, and your family by your side. You could live in a tent if you wanted, as long as you are happy with what you are doing in your life”. For years I have been saying this to my family and friends, and it is so nice to hear someone older than me who has lived an amazing life so far, confirm my beliefs. If life was this simple everywhere, I don’t see how anyone could ever find something to be upset about in this world.