But first, there's Christmas.
As you've seen in some previous photos, we lost all of our Christmas decorations Man
uel's family has acquired through the years. This means that some serious shopping has taken place around New York City markets and those "pop-up" Christmas warehouses on Route 17 in Northern New Jersey, where I was born and raised (i.e. the opening of The Sopranos). I'm pretty jaded to the suburban jumble of lights and reindeer, but it's nice seeing it through the eyes of another person who grew up without front lawns. Manuel loves the stuff that I rolled my eyes at - think an inflatable 12 foot Santa that plays music on your front lawn - and it's a little contagious. I'm just as excited as he is to have a little bit of a celebration and holiday normalcy after a nightmare-ish autumn.
As we were wandering through one of these giant, generic Christmas stores mobbed by
housewives scrambling for the last icicle lights, we were laughing and talking about electric voltage conversions, lawn ornaments and our shopping for family in what is sure to be a downscaled holiday. We had a moment to just be caught up in the spirit of things. As we rounded the corner of the store, completely out of place amidst the fake evergreen and dingy shopper-worn carpeting, we were faced with our reality again.
This picture of Vernazza, labeled simply as "Italian Town" (and, of course, waterproofed for outside hanging for only $199) was hanging nonchalantlyon the wall. Manuel laughed in surprise, and we stood for a few minutes, shocked at the complete randomness of it all. Now, I could look at this as just a strange coincidence, or even as something simply unexpected. After all, the Cinque Terre is famous, especially with Americans. And shopping in an American store, should I be that surprised?
Maybe I read too much into things, maybe my imagination is a little wild, or maybe I've been taking my yoga-esque philosophy too seriously, but for me, it was a sign. Like a little smile or a wink, or a curtain peeking slightly back from the window into the future. Like my new home popped into my old one, stubbornly, just to say again, "I'm still here. And I'm not going anywhere. See you when you come back!"
That's exactly what I hope people are taking from my blog the past few months, or weeks. After things move off the front page, and we get swept back up in our own madness of the holiday season, just remember - Monterosso and Vernazza are still here. And when you least expect it, when your mind wanders, they're still inviting you to come back, in the middle of everything else.