We are back in the regular swing of our own routine now Llew’s parents have headed to the mainland. They left last Friday and – beyond my filing an interview for the Varuna Alumni News – we’ve spent the interim recovering. I’m pretty sure they got to the Amalfi and immediately flaked too. You just underestimate, I think, the impact of travelling with two more people, in close quarters with an unsettled child, not to mention the real challenge we all faced of trying to attend to everyone’s needs and wishes. It’s a pretty big ask. I think we all aced it to the extent that anyone can, but Llew and I at least are still staggering.
The good news is that Llew and I actually got to go out for dinner by ourselves one night after putting the Touring Toddler to bed. K and P went out for an early dinner while we did battle with the One Who Will Not Be Silenced. The second they got home – only just missing the final round of negotiations – we bolted. Waiting for our table, we worked out over a well-earned drink at the restaurant’s bar that we hadn’t been out alone together – had a ‘date night,’ in other words – since Hong Kong. Three and a half months ago.
New York was flat out, we didn’t stop moving for those two weeks, and the combination of the Touring Toddler’s jet-lag with New York’s surprising open house policy toward small children meant that we just took him with us. We always intended to get a babysitter one night but it just never happened. On the next leg in London, we scored a fantastic babysitter, such a winner, but we were only able to lasso her in order to catch up with friends, not venture out by ourselves. It gets expensive, so we had to be judicious. Paris? We were only there 3 nights. Opio? Staying with friends. San Remo? Just a stop on the way to somewhere else. And then Greece and back now to Italy, where in each case babysitting as we understand it does not appear to exist. We’ve looked. Believe me, we’ve looked. In Athens one night we met up with a friend of a friend, and when I pressed her about it, she confirmed our suspicion that it’s just not done. I guess people rely on family or retain nannies; casual babysitting seems to be practically unheard of. So that’s the tale of how a married couple might easily lose their mojo. Three and a half months without an evening alone is a long time.
Needless to say we stayed at dinner the other night until we were the last ones left in the restaurant, then we took a slow stroll around the piazza below Cefalù’s stunning Norman duomo, and I only broke into a run once we entered our building’s courtyard and we heard the Touring Toddler’s anguished cries shattering the quiet of the night. Our timing was good, he’d only just woken up, but even so he was already totally beside himself and I do think we’ll be starting from scratch as far as separation anxiety goes once this trip is over. I think we have reached the limit of his endurance; in a world that keeps on changing, we are his one stable thing, and his attachment to me in particular at the moment is really pronounced. I’m glad we chose that moment to call it a night – causing that level of distress and confusion is just not on. I don’t know what we’ll do for the wedding we’re attending back in Sydney… I really just don’t know.
The whirlwind day-tripping of last week in which we visited Enna, Siracusa, Taormina, Èrice, Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples and finally Palermo – Siracusa and the temples proving major highlights – has given way to our usual alternate mornings of free time, which both of us are using to exercise and look for/think about/do some work. Cefalù’s own rhythms are oddly concordant; it was an utter madhouse here during K and P’s stay, teeming with people and wild weather: the surf was up, the water dirty, the streets overwhelmed. Now all is calm, including the once again pristine waters. I’m so sorry they never got to see it like this.
And now I must away… I have so much work to do on myself and my practice. The only thing that is really clear to me on the employment front is that I must strive to reach my potential as a writer. What that means in a practical sense I am still struggling to understand.