The Continuous Evolution of Home

“Travel does not exist without home… if we never return to the place we started, we would just be wandering, lost.  Home is a reflecting surface, a place to measure our growth and enrich us after being infused with the outside world.” – Josh Gates

                Everyone could define the word, “home” in a different ways.  For me, it isn’t the place, as much as the people.  Home for me is the people I need in my corner.  We all need someone to coax us out of the shadows and show us the greatness we can accomplish.  Or someone to be on the sidelines of everything we do to cheer us onto the next dream.  For me, home is family.  But that one person that is always sitting in my corner? That’s my mum.  There is too much to convey of her character that words fail me.  She leaves me speechless.  I’m 1000% confident that if everyone had someone in their life like her, we would all pursue our dreams despite the odds.

    This whole #farewelltour has been a gift.   I completed the family circuit and it was exactly what I needed.  I joke that my mum was stuck to me like glue, but to be honest, I needed her to be.  Our moms know our hearts better than we can imagine because they formed them for us.  To spend a week at home with people that just “get it” meant that all the confident, determined, defensive, fierce, brave and nervous feelings could melt away.  I didn’t have to explain, or defend my dream, she got it.

           If you were one of the million people that have been asking my mum how she’s doing with her baby moving 5,211 miles away.  She very plainly will tell you, she’s great.  It isn’t because she isn’t worried, or it isn’t a big deal to her.  It’s because it’s a massive deal to her.  She and dad raised me to be a wanderer but she knows that the threads running between myself and my family will tug me back regularly.

When the day came to move from the US, it didn’t’ even feel like it was supposed to be the day to go to Italy.  When you spend quite literally a whole year planning something like this and jumping a million hoops, you feel like you will be planning forever.  But when my eyes burst open at 1am, after only two hours of sleep, it started to sink in.  Today was the day my dream took physical shape.

Boy, was it breathtaking.  I had imagined that when the day came to put everything I owned onto a plane and officially move to Italy, I would be an overwhelmed heap of emotions.  But much to my surprise, as I placed that passport around my neck and said goodbye to my sister in Anchorage, I was excited and perfectly content.  This is the first time I have left family on a big adventure and not cried.  (I am pretty sure it’s just because I was exhausted from the two hours of sleep, but I’m viewing it as a win.)

I felt my soul pull that passport closer to my heart and say, “ahh welcome back”.  Sure, I shed a few tears eating the cookie my mum had stashed in one of my bags, and finding the note of pride from my big sister.  However, they weren’t sad or fearful tears like similar experiences, they were tears of appreciation and recognition of the overwhelming support from my family.

It certainly helped that at the end of a very long day of traveling my Italian family was waiting.  Each leg of the trip I felt more and more excited.  By the time I was waiting to board my flight to Torino from Frankfurt, I am pretty positive everyone thought I was either crazy or needed to go the bathroom.  I was like a dog ready for a walk, couldn’t stop moving or smiling. Icing on the cake? Walking out of security in Torino and hearing my little Italian sister yelling, “Molly, Molly, Molly!!!!” before I could even see them.

Driving to the apartment through the streets of Torino felt exactly like driving in from Highway 5 into St. Maries.  Something inside lets out a small, “mmhmm I’m home”.  The afternoon was a sea of joy and felt like I had never left.  This amazing host family was a miracle three years ago after my original study abroad host family was unable to take me two days before I arrived.  God just knew I belonged with them.  Little Letizia, who has only known me outside of the womb for two weeks last summer, barely stopped saying my name and giving me hugs.  My little brother, Giacomo, only 4 when I first met him was so shy at the age where he barely ever wanted any sort of physical love or connection to me.  Now almost 8, he basically broke the door down and gave me the biggest hug and kiss I’ve ever received.  The rest of the night all he wanted was for me to play with him or just sit next to him.  And my host mom, Mina, I could hear squealing with excitement from the hallway. That hug lasted at least five minutes.

Torino, like St. Maries, is so comfortable to me, an odd thing to feel in a foreign country.  Family friends remember and are excited to see me.  The streets are filled with memories and familiar faces.  Incredible really when my first experience in Torino was a single day during my first trip to Europe with my dads soccer team.  I never expected to come back at all, let alone four times and now return to live in the area.

This past month has been a time to enjoy family and the comforts of home.  The full family circuit started in Boise with my brother, then to north Idaho for two sisters and my parents, then Alaska for the last sister and now Italy with this family.  Tomorrow I step away from the comforts and move on my own again.  Of course I will only be an hour’s train ride from family in Torino, but its time for a new realm of feeling uncomfortable.

I have never moved or attended school somewhere I didn’t know a single soul. Growing up in a small town and as the youngest of five nonetheless, meant I knew most of my kindergarten class before the first day.  That class of less than 100 stayed with me until graduation day.  Even when I moved to Boise for college, I still followed two siblings, their friends, and a few classmates from home.  This will be my first experience going to school where no one knows me outside of what they can discover on social media.  Talk about hoping you’re proud of the things on your Facebook profile (and that you’ve updated the “About Me” since you copied it over from your 7th grade Myspace).

I have the rare opportunity to make a first impression.  This next step allows me to find the next chapter’s “family” and make Bra my new home.  After only 6 hours in the city yesterday, I can already tell that I will be very happy there.  A smaller, quieter town than Torino or Boise, it is one filled with people who think like me.  People who love to learn about what’s in a dish, to talk about where it came from, and most of all, they love to eat.  The home of Slow Food, is about to become my new home, and I for one, cannot wait.

Don’t forget to follow on Snapchat (@AHungryTraveler), Facebook, and Instagram to see my daily adventures and make sure to Follow to never miss a story.

Stay Hungry Friends.

-The Very Hungry Traveler

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