I am beginning the adventure of my life, but before it begins, let me introduce myself. Due to circumstances I couldn’t control, I found myself home alone with two beautiful little boys and a terror that consumed my every moment and accompanied me everywhere. The terror blurred my vision and made even the most mundane tasks overwhelmingly difficult. I couldn’t go to the end of my driveway to get the mail; I would gaze longingly out the window thinking that if I wished hard enough the mail would come to me. I watched people walk and drive by and wondered what it was like to cheerfully go past the driveway.
Life gradually began to change for me about ten years ago; I stuck my head out the front door and looked around a little bit. I kept the cocoon of terror clutched tightly about me, but I did venture out of my house and became somewhat involved in my community, always ready to duck back into the terror cocoon if the world became too threatening. I made every conceivable social gaffe, I tripped over my tongue, offended people, and embarrassed myself, but I kept going back out because the alternative was unbearable. The question I put before myself is how do I find a way to live out the rest of my life and find joy in who I am instead of trying to be who I am not? I have made peace with the terror, it will be with me always, but must I let it control me? Must I spend the years I have left looking out the window wondering what it’s like to go beyond the driveway? No, I have chosen to go beyond the driveway and I want to take you with me.
Step one is to walk away from the grayness of Seattle and travel far away. Here, the sky above is ever gray, a heavy, wet gray that weighs down, it pushes on your shoulders so you hunch them up against the damp coldness, it drips in your face so you cast it downward, barely looking up to see where you are going. The city is filled with people rushing about with hunched shoulders and downcast faces, people so tied up in traffic and crowded sidewalks and pressed down, ever down by the eternal gray, that irritability oozes over into a slight huffiness, a cold indifference; this is not a home for someone like me. So, my escape plan is to leave the land of gray skies in search of sunshine and blue skies, to trade the gray muddy-looking waters of the Puget Sound for blue waters and air washed by warm ocean breezes, but where does one find a community where one will belong, how does one choose where to go next? While puzzling over these questions, the age-old longing to see Italy reared its head and demanded attention. I visited Europe in 1980 and fell irrevocably in love with Italy, I dream of Italy, even now after all these years and all the pain, I still remember how alive I felt under the burning sunshine amid the ancient architecture. I have longed to return to Italy for all of these 37 years, what is holding me back? No one goes alone, I told myself. So what, I’m always alone anyway. It might not be safe, Seattle might not be safe. It would cost more, maybe, but why not live with gusto, just this once? If I fail, if I’m lonely, if I end up hiding in an apartment, fearful of going past the driveway, I can come back again.
So, gentle reader, that brings us to the present. In just over a week I will go past the driveway, get on a jet plane and fly half way around the world to Italy, seat of the Roman Empire, home of St. Peter, of Michelangelo, Dante, Da Vinci, Galileo, gelato, the Sistine Chapel, the Leaning Tower, the Renaissance and the latest fashions, the land of sunshine and azure water that has called to me all these many years. I plan to bring my travels to you, gentle reader, by sharing pictures and stories of my adventures. I hope you will enjoy my great adventure as I travel, I hope the pictures and the people I meet will whet your appetite to go beyond your driveway. Come with me to explore the beauty and diversity of this far away land and beyond. What’s beyond your driveway?