To Italy with Amore

Does anyone remember August?

The last few weeks have blurred in my mind, repeating an endless cycle of air conditioned nights and hot sandy days. For three weekends, I’ve packed the same bag to a new location just to return each Sunday and melt onto my bed, summoning strength for another Monday morning. IMG_4694But here we are, just days away from September. Sweet, beautiful September with cool breezes and changing leaves. I missed you, little 9th month of the year. After the hurried weekends and hot weeks, the fall has come to save us all. The sun is setting noticeably earlier but no one seems to care. My tan lines remember the summer and I’m all too ready to pull out the light jackets and colorful scarves. 

But suddenly time has stopped. With just four days left in frenetic August I hear each minute, lapping like the Hudson River against the pier. Rhythmic. Unhurried.  I’ve lived the last weekend ten times over. The sands in the hourglass are moving against gravity in slow motion uphill. Four long days before EUROPE. 

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My trip in 2014 felt like the experience of a lifetime. I do not regret a single second of the cities I walked and the people I met. Including this little ladyThe chance to return to Italy and watch Serena marry the love of her life feels like the perfect invitation to dust off my passport and pack a suitcase once again. What’s better than watching love happen in one of the most romantic places on earth? Having someone to share it with. 

I remember walking along the canals of Venice and watching the sunsets in Santorini. I have incredible memories of the pizza in Bologna and the waterfalls in Croatia. I truly believe that anyone who loves to travel should try it alone, at least once, just to experience the true freedom to explore and thrive. But there were moments- on the park bench in Nice and in the colosseum in Rome-where I wished I had someone with me to share it with. There would be no one back home who could reminisce, no one to say “remember when…” during a particularly delicious meal or fortuitous meeting with a stranger. There are times of aloneness when you reach out your hand  and wish someone was there to interlace fingers and squeeze tight. 

This time I’m traveling with a plus one. Finally I have the chance to show him who I am at my best with a guidebook in hand on unfamiliar turf. I will show him the gondolas in Venice and tell him about the Australian sister-brother duo I traveled with through St. Mark’s square. I’ll take him to the pizza place I loved and make him eat gelato at every hour of every day. Together we’ll visit Vienna (for the first time!!) and laugh our way through operas, museums and famed cafes.

And then finalmente, we will take a train across Northern Italy and arrive in Torino to reconnect with two of the loveliest people I’ve ever met for their wedding no less! In the beautiful countryside near the town of Asti surrounded by their friends and family, it’s a dream come true. This time, I will reach out and know someone will take my hand. I’ll squeeze it once, twice, just to make sure he’s real. 

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To those who fear:

I make dinner. There is a zucchini in the refrigerator from Monday’s farmers market and some rice in the cabinet. I cut the green vegetable into thick half-moons and listen to them sizzle in the oil, sliding over each other in the pan. The rice is boiling. Sporadic bubbles appear and are instantly gone beneath churning currents. I cover the rice and season the zucchini. It’s a warm and sticky Sunday evening, hours before another week. Tomorrow is another day.

There is little in the daily news that inspires hope. Recent personal events make me question the ifs and the whys in life; these two words have burrowed deep within my stomach. I feel the words beginning to rot, yet answers never come. Great trepidation for the future of which I have no control. 

What is this fear that seems to surround me? 

Zika. Terrorism. Death. The future. Family. Security. Money. Cancer. The “other”. Hillary. Muslims. Trump. Western thought. Death. Sickness. Guns. No guns. Climate change. The wrong choice. Betrayal. Loss of sanity. Loneliness. Inadequacy. Loss of love. No love at all. 

The zucchini is done. Using my wooden spoon, I gently flip each slice and check both sides have browned. The rice needs water. I use the electric kettle and add more steaming liquid before replacing the lid. My lunch for the week is nearing completion.

I wish we the inhabitants of the world could hold one another and ask forgiveness for all the things we’ve ever done or said and have yet to do and say. The longer I live in this world, the more I realize how the Many suffer.The Many have been abandoned by their parents, rejected by society or left to function with less than a whole self. The Many go to sleep wrapped in fury at those who have made them feel, in some way, less than. Less than loved. Less than smart. Less than respected. Less than human. 

The zucchini, rice and chickpeas are finished. I split the ingredients into two plastic containers: lunch for Monday and Tuesday. Snap goes the red lid. A mundane task completed for another day. Snap. A sound so complete. Snap. A moment without meaning. 

Snap and death, a thick black period at the end of a thought, a final punctuation on all that has come before. We lament the future that never will be. Now, we cry, when there is so much left unwritten? But the pen has come and accentuated the dot in permanent black ink. We watch it dry on the page and still we tear at the paper trying to erase what is already done. We think we need the story to continue. We weren’t prepared, didn’t have time to close to the book and place it on the shelf. We don’t know how we will go on.

Tonight before bed, I will imagine a bright star in the night sky, high above the street lamps and traffic lights. On this star, I will wish for the next president of the United States to have compassion, grit and superb listening skills. I will wish for all family members who have witnessed profound tragedy and grief to experience temporary freedom and peace. I will wish for a moment of clarity among the Many who feel life is cheap and tainted and unclean. I wish for you, dear reader, and all your precious beautiful moments that lay ahead. They will come again.

Tomorrow is another day.  

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L is for the way…

The world is in love. 

At dusk, soft voices blend in marshland harmony and their chorus is lifted from the soggy earth up over the hills growing in number and strength. Each male voice calls out in desperation, dreaming of the perfect mate with whom to spend the warm days and cool nights. She is all he thinks of, all he lives for, and the reason for his song.

…the mid-March crescendo of nighttime whistles from amorous males is for many a sign that winter is over.

The spring peepers have awoken.

Two friends, one from college & one from high school, are marrying their high school sweethearts in May. As a loyal friend and bridesmaid, I will jump into the car on Friday, drive to New Jersey to pick up another bridesmaid and road trip to Pennsylvania to celebrate with this bride-to-be. This will be my second bridal shower in just a month and I couldn’t be happier for these friends and their fiances about to embark on yet another chapter of their happily ever after. The world is in love.

mcx-modern-love-0114-mdnDaniel Jones is the editor of a New York Times column and author of a new book, Love Illuminated: Exploring Life’s Most Mystifying Subject (with the Help of 50,000 Strangers). Jones has received tens of thousands of stories on the topic of love and has attempted to distill them in a lighthearted and realistic manner, delving into the modern age of dating, online relationships, divorces and second chances.

“After all, love is for the sucker in us, not the skeptic. Love appeals to our gullible side, the part of us that wants to believe. pg 103” And as each of these engaged couples, longtime partners and blossoming lovers take another shaky step into a unknown future, my heart goes out to them. These are brave souls. There is a great risk in putting trust in another person, giving up control and falling (or leaning) in love. In the modern age of dating, I am personally aware of the mixed signals and awkward silences. Do I like you? Do you like me? Am I too needy or overly aloof? It isn’t easy and the soul mates of the previous century seem to be a thing of the past. But people continue to find love every day and I am grateful to those people willing to take a risk–pushing their chips into the center and going all in.

Mik and ColtI know what many of you are thinking. Who is this blogger and what has she done to the jaded, hopelessly unromantic Katelyn Tsukada? Do not fret. I have not jumped over into a world of star-crossed blissful lovers or ate one too many stale candy hearts left over from February 14th. There will be no “Save the Date” at your door or elopement announcement from my parents in your Inbox (or Span folder). This love is bigger than me. It’s the sun in the morning when I wake up and the 70 degree temperatures during the day. It’s my newfound attempt to regain a healthy food diet and regular gym schedule. And maybe it’s my birthday in ten days and the nervous excitement in anticipation of a new age and new year.

And maybe…maybe spring brings out that part in each of us that so desperately wants to believe in something bigger than ourselves.

Happy Spring.