Luggage and loss in Sicily


Buddha and I take it all in stride during sunset in Siracusa, Sicily.

It’s noon on New Year’s Eve, and I’m washing the only pair of underwear I have in the marble bathroom sink of my hotel room in Sicily. Everything is made of marble here: the floor, the walls, the marbles. I suspect even the genial owner of this charming waterfront hotel might be partly marble, but you can’t just ask someone that.

The excess of marble (or in my interpretation, cold floors) is the reason why I packed the fancy soled slippers that Michael got me for Christmas, a real indulgence that I would not normally bring with me, as I’m a very practical packer. An exception was made in an attempt to treat myself on this eve of the new year – I’ve earned comfy feet, haven’t I? Of course, in the spirit of Murphy’s Law, my luggage never made it to Sicily with me, so here I am with frosty toes, scrubbing soggy underwear in the sink.

It’s a cruel irony, and perhaps an unintentional lesson in materialism, that I broke my own travel rules and packed items that I would rather not live without only to experience my first ever loss of luggage.

Gone are my faithful running shoes and new workout clothes (a gift from my mother), the never-been-worn leather Aquatalia shoes that were a Christmas present from my grandmother (which even she knew was too generous a gift), and the hip black jacket with lace sleeves which I had just lost enough weight to finally wear again. Perhaps the most upsetting loss is the pomade Michael uses to keep his hair coiffed to Italian perfection – how will he fit in with his people now? I haven’t reminded him that his coveted straight razor is in the abyss as well.

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 2.12.47 PM.pngGame theory enters the situation – how long do we wait before buying new clothes? I am proudly self-employed as of two weeks ago, and as such I no longer have an income, meaning every penny must be pinched. I’m hesitant to drop money on fine Italian clothing (which is the only kind available here) only to have the luggage suddenly appear in our midst.

The very unhelpful website that is supposedly tracking our goods advises us to indefinitely “check back later,” though this message has yet to change, so  I’m currently cultivating a conspiracy that they are hoarding my underwear for nefarious purposes.

Despite the inflexibility, and frankly the unsympathetic attitude of Vueling Airlines, who are responsible for our lost luggage, it’s hard to be too upset. Sicily is stunning: its people are abundantly friendly, each of their words spoken as if read from a poem, and the food, in both both quality and price, make one want to gesticulate wildly in affirmation. Not to mention the reason we are here is due to generosity alone, and we can’t let a few lost items of clothing spoil that.

8d39756a-15cc-4627-9b16-c4b80044dd33We are relaxing in this city of antiquity, surrounded by places deeply integral to the course of human history. Tonight we will dine in a restaurant from the 1400s, and later on ring in the new year with a musical celebration in the Piazza Duomo, which is bordered by a church of both Greek and Italian heritage. Over the next few days we will explore the town of Siracusa, namesake of my future husband, and possibly to me should I decide to go that route.

Until then I will be here, practicing detaching myself from material goods while trying to make underwear out of marble.


Manual Rewind

Sometimes in order to move forward, we need to take a step back.

It’s easier said than done though, like most rewarding decisions. Pausing whatever it is that we’re doing in order to reevaluate the situation feels like quitting. Personally, I’m at a crossroads in my life where I can move forward with the way things are, or change my environment and focus on my priorities until I’m ready to figure out where to go next. The conclusion I’ve come to is that right now is an opportune moment for me to take a leave of absence from work to answer some of those questions.

With that said, the question came up of how I would use my time away from work. Since the moment I left Iceland last year I’ve felt those black sand beaches tugging at my heart, trying to pull me back. I felt at home in those other-worldly fjords, nestled in the conversations of people speaking an ancient language, telling tales of their unique brand of folklore. Iceland was a sensory overload for me, not just because of its natural beauty or surprisingly delicious food (not everything is pickled), but because I could tell from the moment my feet touched those lava beds that my heart was open.

Perhaps most importantly I recall Iceland as a place that can help facilitate growth in the 3 areas I want to focus on:

1) Unplug

The first condition I want to address is that of being “unplugged.” In 2012 I went to Israel and never used my phone or computer, as was the case with most of my fellow Birthright group members. I felt more present than I had in years, and as a result the friendships I made over those 10 days not only persisted through the years, but strengthened. I won’t be purchasing an international plan for my phone, and if I don’t deactivate Facebook, I hope at the very least that I can spend enough time away from my computer to lessen my addiction to it. I do plan on updating Instagram with pictures since Iceland is hella pretty, so follow me if a month without hearing from me is too much to bear.

2) Create

I see this leave of absence as an opportunity to focus on some of the projects that having a full time job leaves me too tired to address. My fiancé’s mom has generously equipped me with all the watercoloring supplies a novice sketchbooker could need, but for the most part they remain untouched due to lack of time and creative energy. My goal for this leave is to draw something at least once a day, like the below postcard I sketched after my last trip to Iceland.


I also intend to write every day, even if it’s just this blog or snippets of fiction.

3) Move

Whether it’s going on a hike to look for a good drawing subject or swimming in Iceland’s curiously popular public pools, I want to move for at least 30 minutes every day. Moving is good for the ol’ bones, so I’m going to give my bod a little bit of love. At the very least, I won’t have the excuse of San Francisco’s hills to keep me from running.

In making this choice, I recognize that I’m replicating the same first-world white-person nonsense as that Eat Pray Love book. Stuff’s not working out at home, so I’m going to run away to a country that starts with an “i” to discover 3 qualities about myself and then come back to find Julia Roberts has stolen my likeness. I’m sure I’m not the first person to experience their quarter life crisis in this way, but it’s my privilege and I’m sticking to it!