I created this blog about 6 months after I moved to Sicily. In fact, this spring I celebrated my 3rd anniversary as a 'Sicilian'. I can hardly believe that 3 years have passed. But I can see how raising a little boy is also a marker of time--this little boy of mine is almost 4, not so little anymore! Thinking back to 'where my little baby has gone' brings me to the moment I am reflecting on right now, the whole purpose for sitting down to write this post. I am thinking about the special moment in which I met my very first friend here in Sicily, a friend all my own who I fortuitously encountered that first Sicilian September right here in Aci Castello's piazza.
It was our little boys of course who attracted us to each other right away and got us sharing bits and pieces of information about ourselves. I knew I liked this woman right away! Her open smile, the love and warmth that poured out of her so naturally as she interacted with her son. Her humorous and attentive husband. Turns out she was also fluent in English, had spent most of her childhood in Germany, had spent a period as an adult in the US, and studied languages in university. Hallelujah! We agreed to stay in touch and meet each other for play dates in the park!
I remember the morning of our first encounter well because it was also my 38th birthday. The birthday was sweet and happy because I spent it with my husband and 16th month old son. That evening I was treated to a luxurious dinner prepared by my wonderful husband. And to add to the familial happiness I had a new friend who I will always remember as the surprise birthday present of the year. And although I was still certainly 'lost' in many regards that day, that first friendship of mine was a true turning point of my Sicilian life. Throughout that year I was to meet other lovely people and slowly my life, my community, my sense of belonging took root so that today, almost 3 years later, I can exclaim out loud to you all I AM NO LONGER LOST! And I know I owe much of that to this special friendship and the others that would follow.
Today I had to hug my dear first friend goodbye as she is leaving Sicily. It is a teary and emotional goodbye. I know we will stay in touch and see each other again in different places, having new and equally joyful adventures together, but I will so miss just knowing that beautiful friend of mine is nearby. My special first friend is hard to let go of! She, her sweet little boy (who is not so little anymore either!), that attentive humorous husband of hers, they are all very dear to me! The last of my girls' night out pals is moving away and I am terribly crushed, but I also know the sense of belonging I feel inside of me right now is in part because of these very friendships which have given me the strength to call this place home.
So, I raise my imaginary glass and make a toast to friendship, to those who have moved away and will be a part of my ever-growing long-distance tribe, and those that are still here, I treasure the fact that you are still here and I must warn you I will be holding onto you more tightly than ever!