After a sleepless overnight flight spent sitting next to a neurotic 10-year-old reminiscent of Chunk from “The Goonies,” my boyfriend picked me up at Catania airport. As we drove from the airport to the small beachfront town where he grew up, I was struck by two things: the rough-hewn landscape that ranged from volcano to mountainous forest to rocky beach, and the fact that just two short weeks from that moment, I’d be back in Boston.
I wondered to myself, how could I really enjoy this vacation – one that I’d looked forward to for so long – knowing that it would be over before I knew it. Luckily the first 24 hours provided me with several reminders of impermanence:
1. Shortly after we arrived at his parents’ home, we made our way across the street to the beach and assumed the position facing the Mediterranean that I’d dreamt about for months. About a mile out, we saw a white yacht with a thin flume of smoke rising from it. Within an hour, the smoke grew darker and thicker, until we could see enormous flames violently consuming the helpless structure. By the time the fire department boat arrived, the yacht had all but sunk. The 12 passengers had been rescued by other boaters and likely watched the destruction from a safe distance. Reminder: possessions don’t last.
2. While I was compulsively watching this fire, my pasty white body and I sat beneath an umbrella. Despite my ghost-like appearance (that on any other beach might have blended in with other non-sun worshippers) I felt relatively good about my body. That was, until “The Butt” arrived. The Butt belonged to a 22-year-old, perfectly bronzed Sicilian goddess who favored the “cutaway” bikini bottom. Michelangelo could not have sculpted anything more perfect. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. At this point in my life, I’d have to be spray tanned, lose 25 pounds, and walk around on my hands to have anything nearly as perky. Reminder: beauty fades.
3. Dinner the first night with the family was incredible. The sisters cooked pasta a la norma (pasta with eggplants, tomatoes, and ricotta salata) and polpettone (Italian meatloaf with mushrooms and peas) and there was bread and fruit and chocolate hazelnut gelato. Then out came the chilled bottle of Prosecco. I haven’t had a drink in nearly 4 years, but Prosecco was always my favorite, I so wanted to share a glass with my boyfriend and his family, and I WAS ON VACATION, DAMN IT! So I sat with that. I declined the glass as graciously as I could and knew the moment would pass. Reminder: time passes.
Equipped with my Mobile Meditator, I was able to practice most days of the vacation and I’m convinced this made a difference. Though there is no escape from impermanence, the combination of patience and practice (not to mention a loving boyfriend and his welcoming family, beautiful scenery, and the most delicious food in the world) allowed me to enjoy my time in Sicily. And at the end of two weeks, I knew I’d been there for every moment.