It's not quite this...
But it is this.
As you might have guessed, I'm OK. But I am spending every waking moment of every day thinking about when I can go home and start doing my life again.
I admit that for about five seconds I contemplated the idea of not going back. Maybe just staying down in the lowlands and being a Vatican reporter again.
HA HA HA HA HA HA HAAAAA!!
(I was probably thinking this while I was in the City eating Japanese food with a friend of mine - neither of whom I see very often.)
Frankly, even with Norcia being described as being like a war zone, I'm this close to just going home. I'm so bored. I need my house. If this experience has taught me nothing else it's that I am to my core a domestic country mouse. I don't do cities, and I really shouldn't be away from my house for more than very short periods.
This camping out is OK. I finally settled in a little holiday flat in Santa Marinella. It's decent, clean and close to the train station. It's got every domestic thing you might need to survive and it's cheap because it's the off season. So I'm not suffering anything worse than homesickness (which is actually amazingly acute!) and boredom. But the fact is, we're physical beings and, to put it simply, your life happens where your stuff is.
|the studio work bench|
I've been thinking about what physical elements go to make up life. My art studio is in my house. My kitchen and all my culinary and garden experiments are in my house. My garden, my sewing, books, bike, projects... life.
How do you know you're not a mendicant? How do you figure out that you've got a more stability-oriented vocation in life? Try an earthquake or some other natural disaster and see how it suits you. If you feel relieved that you're free to move around and do lots of stuff out in the world, that's a pretty good sign you should look into the Franciscans. If you keep trying unconsciously to go to your book case and find a book or absent-mindedly think, "Oh, I should turn over the compost tomorrow," or "I really do need to bottle the last batch of beer," ... if you wake up every morning wondering where the heck you are...
I've got nothing to do here and it's driving me up the wall. Up there, especially since my house is OK, I could be of some help. I could go down to the zona industriale and help serve meals and sort donations and whatnot. There must be a volunteer signup sheet, right?
And of course, it's becoming clear that outside an extremely small number of places in this country (five, I think) the Faith isn't practiced. You can go it alone only for so long. Mass on Sundays in Rome is fine, but it's an hour long train ride. All the reasons I left Santa Marinella to live in Norcia in the first place are still out here.
So, I've been working on a list of basic things I need to start thinking about going home:
- electricity and running water - which I'm told we have at my house. No gas, but I've bought a cannister-run heater that is incredibly efficient and just before the quakes I got in a three month load of firewood, so heat isn't an issue. Cold showers don't scare me;
- a place to buy food, even a little shop where I can get the basics: meat and veg, rice, oil, milk, tea coffee and kitty food. I don't mind simple fare and short rations, but I really don't want to be another mouth that the volunteers and military have to feed. And there's always the kitties to think about. They're pretty good hunters, but they like their meals regular. I could prolly benefit from a little fasting but they can't. But, I'm told the shops are open in Cascia and a friend with a car has stayed in town. Also, the bus is apparently running daily down to Spoleto - not much further away from Norcia than Rome is from S. Mar - so if it comes to that, I can make a weekly shopping run. Also, the Umbria Journal says that the Coop (big supermarket chain that is the main food thing in Norcia) is planning to open a smaller version in a new building in the zona industriale by Christmas.
- (this is a big one) for a place to go to Mass. I actually left England because there were so few choices. I moved to Norcia in the first place to be closer to the Mass. Even if I suck about going to daily Mass, I need it to be close enough.
This latest update from the monks has given me hope that we could be closer than I had first anticipated:
"Starting next Sunday, the chapel will make it possible for us to offer Mass on the monastery grounds (San Benedetto in Monte) for the few brave souls still remaining in Norcia, providing immediate benefits to locals and to allow us to start getting back, if only a little, to normal."
|kind of up there|
Now, that's up on their mountain property, which is physically too much for me to get to every day. It's about 3 miles from my house and up the side of a mountain.
I have walked it, but the simple truth is that I'm not as physically strong as I once was (chemo... middle age... etc) and whenever I've done the hike, I've generally been good for nothing the next day.
|Same road in winter. Pretty but kind of hard to walk on|
I'd need to find some form of transport.
- some kind of internet access that is at least regular if not constant so I can make a living. I've got my mobile internet stick, however, and can recharge it in Spoleto or Cascia. Not sure if it would get a signal there. On Quake Day, we were only getting sporadic cell phone signal, so I don't know. But my friend Emanuele is up there and seems to have daily access from somewhere. He's the expert and if anyone can get me enough internet to keep working it's him.
- and, last, but far from least...
FOR THE GEE DEE !!!*@#*&@;$!!%^!!! - ING EARTHQUAKES TO STOP!
Latest earthquake news isn't very encouraging:
We had a 3.9 yesterday at 9:41 pm with the epicentre a few miles north of Norcia.
But the day's list is a lot longer and includes quite a lot more over 3.0:
3.1 just after midnight,
3.5 at 3:57 am,
3.1 at 3:41pm,
3.3 at 4:16 pm,
3.5 at 7:09 pm,
3.6 at 7:34 pm,
3.2 at 7:51 pm,
3.4 at 8:40 pm,
November 27 total: 88 above 2.0
And at least a few smaller shakes for every hour of the day.
That's a pretty big jump.
Up from November 26: 44 above 2.0 and only 2 over 3.0
So yeah, it looks like it's getting lively again.
Home, for me, is what life is for.