God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Time Travel

Children empty themselves in unexpected ways--finding creative avenues to express and release emotions and dreams. We big people must watch closely for the message being sent and the heart that is being exposed. I relearn this almost daily.

Casey makes no bones about missing Italy, friends and all that was. In fact his latest blog entry again makes this plain Here and There. At night in bed, much as it was a year ago when he would ask to return to San Diego, he asks "Can we start packing? I really want to go back."

Spoken words and overt revelations are easy to read. They can be discussed quietly and sadness softened. But, there are more subtle ways of expression, too, and some of these can bring a tear or two, knowing that there is a private grief that needs to be left alone to find private solutions. Such is the time machine.

Casey's Time Machine
This takes Casey back in time to where he wants to be. He has developed quite a process for activating it--complete with sounds and movement. The machine has been housed in the middle of the office, the TV room, his bedroom, the kitchen and other places. Now it is ensconced in a spare bedroom which has temporarily been converted into a play room. If he goes upstairs and is quiet, we know he has gone traveling.

If you look closely, you can recognize all the little odds and ends he has drawn together to make this--a clock, the globe, levers, a mobile phone for commands, a radio, the core being the mind of the computer and then it all lays on the Fiorentina banner--symbolic? I think so.

He has introduced this glorious machine to some of his friends, and, being 9 year olds, they are easily entranced with make-believe and join Casey in making it real. It becomes an outlet for him and by sharing it with friends here, he begins to blend the parts of his life. The process is fascinating to observe and maybe learn from.

Ken and I are doing much the same thing--in different ways. We are reconnecting with people --something we needed time to do. We are resuming a life that was put on hold for a year but we are being selective about what we resurrect. We have become very aware of the consumer driven society of the US; the millions of things to make life easier but in reality make it crowded and sterile. The road to an easier life, we have learned, is in many ways the absence of things--not the proliferation. We are still overwhelmed by our house and belongings--more than we need and now more that we want.

We are different people--not necessarily better--just different. And this is a problem because there are 10 lane freeways here, big box stores galore, blazing neon on every structure, fast food establishments 3 to a block, strip malls and the revered Walmart. We can not change these things and so we must adapt--to all but Walmart.

We find that the skies we loved so much in Tuscany are here, too. The colors are different but the beauty still reflects the creator.

Friends are true and waited for us. Saturday we joined with many of them for food, laughter and reflections on the greatness of our God's magnificent universe. Thursday I am "doing" lunch with two good friends who add strength to my life. One of them babysat my plants all year, turning each of them into a virtual jungle. Had I stayed here I know they would have been long dead.

Casey and Ken are at the movies now and Ken can enjoy it along with Casey as English is his cup of tea--although, Casey would prefer Italian.

We have Thai and Chinese and Mexican and Peruvian and Vietnamese and Moroccan and more to choose from when we go out at night--although, strangely, our love continues to be Italian. As with our travels, we may occasionally branch out but always return to Italy and pasta.

Our pool is cool and refreshing and we play with Casey. He rides his bike in the park across the street and practices his karate.

Tonight we are having tacos--with chedder cheese and fresh tortillas--a treat delayed for a year.

So, as with Casey, we are learning to reenter a life that has always been ours but look forward to the next time in our other life--using our time machine--a United 747.


Barb Cabot said...

Dear Jane, So nice to hear your thoughts and what transitional life is like. I shared this quote with you before but it's one that seems appropriate to send again:
"...The space we love is unwilling to remain permanently enclosed. It deploys and appears to move elsewhere without difficulty; into other times, and on different planes of dream and memory. ..." May those dreams and memories of such fulfilling times in Italy sustain you until you travel there again. Keep writing...you have a built in audience of loyal fans. Happy summer days to you and yours!

Janice said...

Jane, Slow Food San Diego is coming up. Maybe you guys could attend or search out similar activities in your area if you are now interested in living a simpler, slower life.

My husband and I didn't need to live a year abroad to realize we had too big a house and too much stuff. Down sizing truly was liberating for us. Yes, we notice and bemoan the corporate stores and traffic in the large cities nearby but coming home to a rural community and a small home with a tranquil garden seems to provide the balance we now require.

Remember too, the majority of Italians do not live simpler lives in smaller spaces because of superior notions or credo - land is at a premium and their economy is not strong. I'm sure you know many Europeans who are enthralled with the vast spaces and large, private homes in the U.S.

There's much to appreciate, admire and explore in America. Yes, I've been homesick after leaving a long stay in Italy. But I believe my experiences there changed me because, as an outsider and a traveler, I was able to focus on life's simply joys with the eyes of a child. We are not ourselves when we travel - I think that a slower pace and sense of awareness born out of our inate struggle for survival in a foreign land is what heightens our travel experiences. And that child-like wonder at simple pleasures is what we crave when we return to our homes.

Best wishes during your re-entry. Focus on your friends and family, giving them your full attention. I've found most, if not all, don't understand us when we drift away, secretly re-living idyllic times abroad.

It also helps me to remember how fortunate I have been to have traveled. I used to worry and obsess about being able to make another journey and perhaps a move overseas - now, I take it day by day and focus on my many blessings.

That's another thing I suspect sets some apart from those who live in rural, close-knit, mostly agricultural areas, whether it's in Italy or in America. We are a wealthy nation and most of us can afford to buy our pleasures, our quick fixes, whether it's a plasma t.v. or an expensive car or holidays abroad. It's hard to find joy within when we live in a world that defines happiness in material terms - but it can be done.

Palma said...


I LOVE Casey's time machine! My scrapbooks are my time machine. I am reliving every moment. You will find new ways to "live Italian" in San Diego. The connections and relationships have no geographical boundaries. Can't wait to see you!

Jane said...

Janice, Barb, Palma--thank you for being friends and your words. Now--how do we begin downsizing? The task seems overwhelming!! Maybe just call in Goodwill and have them cart away.

We do live a blessed life and we are thankful for that.

kloeamongtheturks said...

Hi Jane,
Thanks for your comment on my blog. I hope you continue to write, and that Casey continues to readjust too.
I love the insight in Janice's comments. Will try to remember them as I am horrified by the size of my house and the amount of junk in it.
Best of luck with fourth grade, to everyone in your house...

Jane said...

As I said on your blog, we can understand each other and the difficulty this readjustment is--not helped at all by not wanting to adjust. Right? Are you going to keep up your blog? It is so original and entertaining. I have enjoyed it very much.

Jerry said...

Casey's time machine is incredible. It is amazing how children use their natural creativity to help them cope with their feelinsg and emotions - if only we adults were better at that!

It is interesting to hear your new prespective on North American society . . . in our rush to have things bigger, better, and faster slong the way we have lost track of the important things. Slowtravel in particular is helping me better grasp that.