September was an orgy of a month: for a change, we did not miss the Italian sun. It feels weird to have such a hot sun for so many days outside Italy and other equally blessed countries. To get that feeling when you go out at night – that you want to stay outside for hours and hours because you are not cold at all, and you are just enjoying being outside, a feeling that to me is the trademark of la dolce vita and makes the holidays I take in Italy always special, even in winter.
Germany felt almost like another place with that weather, giving more solidity to the theory – shared by all Mediterranean expats I have met so far – of the huge impact climate has on each population’s attitude and the development of its economy. I went out with friends, ate food, tried new places, walked the streets of Cologne and Düsseldorf one more time. And now it is time to go. Time to make one last trip to the market, where everyone recognizes me. Remembering early day conversations, going there with the cold and ice, a German I could barely express myself in. Now I’m more confident, or maybe just less scared, I know how these people have been nice to me, the guy who sells yoghurt whose wife is half Italian, and the guy who sells dried fruit from Morocco and has the best almonds this side of the Alps, the vegetable seller who taught me half of the vegetables’ names, and the poultry man who’d always recommend I say hallo to my partner when he does not come along.
Remembering other sellers, my butcher in Wales, who was always intrigued when I showed up with some weird request (the boy would literally run to the back of the shop as soon as I showed up); the Sicilian woman selling purple and white aubergines in Milan, eight months pregnant; the noisy, rose cheeked and beautiful ladies selling filled breads in a little shop in Trieste; the knowledgeable but approachable cheese seller at the Marché d’Aligre in Paris… I tend to feel quite strongly for my food suppliers. I’ll never really be happy with supermarkets or online orders, although they do make some sense.
Anyway. This was it, for Germany. I’ve just been a few days in Plymouth and I already love my new home. I woke up loving every bit of it, a big smile on my face every moment. Happiness is such an unexpected gift, and so difficult to explain. The next weeks I will be in Italy, with my parents: my cats cannot enter the UK yet and I’m staying behind with them. I will see the most amazing views of the lake every morning, and I already know I’ll be spoiled with the very best cheese and wine. It is not something I would have done freely, but I do rejoyce the opportunity of spending time with my parents. I’ve always been fiercely independent. I could not wait to go out and live on my own when I was a teenager. Now I am probably old enough to come to terms with it, it will do me good. I also need to come to term with the possibility of doing very little for a while. I’ll have time to think and read and very limited possibility of ‘doing’, which goes totally against my inclination, but will probably also do me good.