• Lara Flanagan

Blizzards and Italian Dreaming

Updated: Feb 28


It is hard to believe that it is now 2017.  Our time in the USA is coming to an end and it has just hit me that it is time to start preparing for Italy.   Which also means we are coming very quickly to the halfway mark of our trip.  Time has flown.  Flown so quickly that it feels like a blink of the eye since we left.


Usually the New Year makes me relatively contemplative and after a bit too much vino I find myself asking the deep and meaningful questions of myself like, “what the fuck have you done with yourself this year?”  The arrival of this New Year went by without my usual contemplation and bullshit.  However, this half way mark of my trip has put me in a contemplative mood as I ponder the six months past and the six months ahead.


In just under two weeks time we will have completed 3 months in the USA and 3 months in Costa Rica.  The fact that we have done this makes me immeasurably proud of myself.  I still ask of myself occasionally questions like, “How the hell did you even get here Lara?”  That mad period in Australia after I had booked those tickets does not quite seem real.  I have to remind myself that I sold my car (note to oneself, that I will need to address the car issue big time when I get back) and put my dogs in the loving care of my brother (I could never have prepared myself for how much I was going to miss my dogs).  I sold many of my possessions, (including a lifetime of books). I rented out my cottage, I stayed with Mum and Phil (god bless their cotton and ever patient socks), I worked as many hours as I could find, I occasionally hit the floor in shock when I came across things I had not even thought about (fuck you $4000 worth of vaccinations) but ultimately I got there.


We got to Brisbane airport, said farewell and jetted off into the start of a very big adventure.  I knew what to expect of the States in that I love the States.  I love the people. I have people there like Strach and Robert who I consider to be family. I wanted to explore more of it and see as much as I could, but ultimately I knew that America was always going to be my safe harbour.  It has been that and so much more.  My heart will always swell with love when I think of the States.  Especially Rhode Island, my beautiful New England American home and New York City, that city that will always captivate me.   I can’t wait to return one day soon to my American New England.


I had no expectations of Costa Rica except that it was the country on my list that was there because I wanted to challenge myself.  I wanted to scare myself a little but do it in relatively safe surrounds.  Costa Rica was beautiful and challenging and taught me a lot about myself.  It taught me that I can be tough.  It taught me that I can live day by day and forget about tomorrow.  It taught me that even though I am faced with children on the verge of hysteria due to crazy bus rides where we were not too sure of the destination that I could remain calm and perky whilst saying fuck a thousand times in my head.  


It reminded me of the simple beauty of life and of living slower and of what heavenly enjoyment the simple things can bring.  We would do an hour’s round trip on a hot day just to have a mango sorbet on a stone bench in the park.  It taught me about Pura Vida and living on Tico time.  It was not without its tribulations, not without its tears and frustrations.    The rains, the monkeys and the dogs.   Costa Rica is etched in my brain for so many reasons.  When I think of Costa Rica in my head I become a tough but relaxed Lara Croft.  Lara Croft with a dog.  A Costa Rican dog.


In two weeks time we shall be arriving in Italy.  Oh my.  Oh my.   Italy has lived in my head for 30 odd years as I probably started daydreaming about it in my teenage years.   I think as soon as I read A Room with a View I had fallen in love.  Then it was the Godfather movies that gave me a craving of becoming a mafia moll as I just loved their family dinners.  Then I wanted long trestle tables and oodles of children running around.  There were always mountains of food in my dreams.  I wanted a gorgeous Italian Momma to teach me how to make spaghetti. Hundreds of visions, hundreds of books, countless movies all served to form a country in my head that summed up magic for me.


I always said I would go to Italy for love.  In 5 years of living in the UK and travelling extensively I managed to avoid Italy as it had to be for love.  I think I imagined a dishy bloke next to me driving a topless red convertible in the hills somewhere.  Well, last year I decided to finally ditch the bloke and the convertible and get myself to Italy for the love of something else.  Whether it be for the love of me, the love of my kids, or simply a love of how beautiful life can be, I had to bite the bullet.  I am still going to Italy for love, but it is the simple love of me and mine.  I can’t explain it anymore than that.  But Italy has so much promise for me, it has been a dream for as long as I can remember, so to think that in 2 weeks I will be arriving in Rome fills my little black heart with a joy that I cannot explain.


I am glad I don’t have any expectations that I can articulate as expectations can lead to disappointment.  Rather I am expecting to be moved by Italy.  To feel joy in the most simple of things.  Italy is where the phrase Dolce far niente comes from, the sweetness of doing nothing.  I simply want to be in Italy.  That’s all.


Unlike my departure from the States to Costa Rica and the return from Costa Rica to the States which I really prepared for on the day of, I need to actually address things and I can no longer pretend that it can all be done on the morning of.  For the first time in our trip we will be sending a box home of a few things.  Lego the kids have accumulated and a few other things that are too cumbersome to pack and too precious to leave behind.  I need to go through the kids summer clothes as they have outgrown a few things.  Basically I need to get my shit together.  Which I will do, very soon I am sure.


We had our first blizzard this week.  Which was heavenly.  I am not sure if it really counted as a blizzard, or a winter storm.  Maybe it was just falling snow.  Regardless this little Aussie is calling it a fucking blizzard.  I do so love weather extremes.  I thought that the kids and I should go for a walk on the afternoon that there was a “Winter Weather Warning” in place.  Once again I created visions of Lara Croft in my head.  This time instead of combat shorts and a singlet I was wearing super tight white ski pants and a fur (faux of course) lined hoodie thingy which looked impossibly glamorous. We went to the Athenaeum which is one of my favourite places in Providence to stock up on books in the event of being snowed in.


When we started walking home I realised a few things.  None of us had scarves and the kids had forgotten or lost their gloves.  That sort of shit makes me see red and banished Lara Croft from my head.   I lent them a glove each  until we found a place where I could buy them some gloves.  It was apparent to me that it was a bit nippy and the snow was falling rather rapidly so possibly being without gloves was a tad foolish.  


Once we were kitted up and continuing to walk, I got all excited like a puppy that you know is about to pee all over the floor.  I repeatedly asked the kids to tell me how excited they were.  Rissie just glared at me from the gap she had left after pulling her beanie over her face.  Archie asked me in an exasperated voice, “What is exciting mummy?  The fact that we are walking in a blizzard?”  He stopped for a moment to let me know how little he thought of me at that present moment in time and asked again in a tone that you reserve for the puppy who has in fact pissed all over the floor, “You do know it is a blizzard don’t you?”   We walked in silence for a little while, but I had to get the last word in, “Well that is exciting isn’t it?  Not often you can say you went walking in a blizzard.”


The snow the next morning made the world a completely magical place.  I went walking and actually saw someone ski past me which is an indication of how deep the snow was.   There were moments when it took my breath away, especially when I took a step near the river and fell waist deep into a ditch.  I continue to be a thing of beauty.   I am not sure if we will ever see snow like this again, and as I start to prepare for our next destination, it makes me feel like the luckiest girl in the world.


#snow #USA #Journey #CostaRica #Motherhood #Italy #Travel #Travelingwithkids #Hope

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