I am sitting in Florence at a gorgeous little bar drinking a glass of prosecco. My travel companion has gone up to our room for a quick before dinner nap.
Harry Connick Jr. plays gently in the background and as I nibble at the plate of peanuts that has been placed in front of me while sitting in a lemon-butter colored, re-upholstered Louis XIV chair, I’m not thinking about the museums we’ll be visiting or the tiny alleyways we’ll be walking down tomorrow.
I’m thinking about Mauritius.
Today is Mauritius’ Independence Day and I find myself still thinking that my place is still on the island. In the breakfast room each morning, other travelers ask where I’m coming from and I don’t really know how to respond.
I say I’m from Minnesota, but that I’ve been living in Mauritius and have just moved to France while on this current journey to Italy. It’s not a one word answer and after I blurt it all out, I quietly think to myself, “oh, shit. Have I really become one of THOSE people? errr….oh, shit, indeed.”
My ‘place’ is currently up in the air. It feels like it’s been stretched. I no longer live in Mauritius and I don’t really feel like I live in my new country, yet.
A part of my soul is still sitting there on the island on my verandah, sweating away in the sweltering heat while watching the palm trees sway.
But, I’m in Italy and I technically live in France, but I’m still an American.
Perhaps, I should volunteer to go live aboard the space station because at this point in my life, anywhere I place my toothbrush in the morning, is my ‘home’ for the evening.
It’s a good thing I’m currently travelling with a wonderful friend of mine from Chicago. I fear if I didn’t have some sort of cultural anchor, I would just drift up off the ground and float away.
I visited Italy over 17 years ago and as I type this, I realize that I am wearing the leather belt I bought in Florence while I was a college student traveling around Europe as part of my ‘Study Abroad’ program.
I never would have imagined that my truly awesome belt (come on now, that’s some quality leather craftsmanship) and I would make our way back to this fabulous city.
But, here we are. And here I sit. In Florence surrounded by beautiful splendor, drinking and eating things that seem to have fallen directly from heaven, while thinking about a tiny little island in the Indian Ocean.
Happy Independence Day, Mauritius. Here are some Mauritians’ thoughts and words about Independence Day: