I'm officially on the countdown. My children and I are leaving Italy at the end of this month, and I have started packing in earnest. Packing my house feels more like a slow torturous dismembering of something sacred, and I am forced to constantly throttle the nostalgia that wells up in my throat. As I dismember, I have been remembering some of the scenes from my life as Jenny within these walls, and I want to chronicle some of these here.
I wrote in this post earlier:
My house was built in the 1600’s, and has since been added onto and transformed in so many ways by so many people, that there is not one level wall or ceiling anywhere in it. When we renovated about ten years ago, a stash of guns were found under the kitchen floor, which were hidden there by the partisan resistance fighters in World War II.
My house has thick stone walls, at times even more than two feet thick. Hanging a picture becomes a production involving various power tools, and never knowing what you may find beneath the first layer...
There are literally no right angles in my house, and it is full of strange nooks and crannies. There are iron rings planted into the front wall where the horses used to be tied up...
Describing my house makes me realize how romantic it seems, and it probably is. When I moved here 15 years ago, we had not yet renovated it, and we had to walk outside through the courtyard to get to the bathroom, sometimes through the snow. We didn't live here year round during those years, as we were running an alpine refuge, and only came down the mountain during the winter months. I went through both of my preganacies at the refuge, to the horror of many who said that my babies would be born up there in the middle of nowhere, I wouldn't make it to the hospital, the altitude was too high, the dirt road was too bumpy, and so on (I remember wondering how on earth people in Nepal managed to reproduce, according to these people).
As I look back on Jenny's life within these walls, I think the memory which is most touching and vivid is the birth of my second son, Dana, who was born right on my bed. We had planned a homebirth for my first child, too, but I went so far past my due date that I went to the hospital. My second boy, however, made his appearance right here. We were at the refuge at the peak of the summer season, and I awoke on my due date and told my husband it was definitely time to go. We left the refuge at 6:30am, and each bump and pothole on that winding dirt road just made everything go that much faster. We arrived at my house at 8 where the midwife was waiting for us, and Dana came into the world a half an hour later. He promptly feel asleep in the same bed in which he was conceived, and was a tranquil, Buddha-like baby who gurgled and snoozed his way through infancy.
I have often wondered how many other babies came into the world within these walls over the years.
Homes are like chapters of a book to me. Each home I have lived in has been its own story. I am waxing nostalgic about this home now, but I am also brimming with anticipation at the thought of my next home, of its own colors and smells, creaking floorboards and hidden corners. My husband and I were on the verge of a meltdown yesterday as we cleaned out cabinets and drawers, each one producing some forgotten photo or keepsake. He opened a bottle of my favorite wine in the middle of the afternoon, poured two glasses and we toasted over the pile of our life heaped there on the floor.
He lifted his glass to mine and said,