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Returning Home

by Bianca Cardaci about a year ago in immediate family
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And Finding Yourself

Sabbia, a town so influenced by the ocean that the sea salt carries in every breath. The pasta is salted by it, the produce enriched by it and the wine has a distinct dryness that makes you crave just one more glass. It is not the most beautiful town on the Gulf of Naples but it is an honest place where people wear their grudges on their sleeves.

Lidia had no intentions of ever returning to her hometown. In fact, everything she’s done over the past ten years has been to put as much distance between herself and the place that had stifled her. She’s spent the decade traveling through the states, trying her luck as a writer, but mostly just wandering, searching for something that always seems just out of reach. Yet her father has now passed in his old age and her family aches for her return.

She settles into her redeye from Seattle with a cheap thrift store novel that she bought just the day before. But she struggles to relate to the protagonist, Maggie, a superficial socialite who’s only struggles include choosing a brunch menu that will impress her well-to-do friends. She remembers her father and the sacrifices he’s made for her and her two sisters. They never had much but it always seemed like plenty. Family, good food and hard work. Those were the pillars that he instilled in them. Needless to say, her father was not a fan of her career choices. In fact, they haven’t spoken since she left her last job as a columnist for a well known online magazine.

Her plane lands but she is in no hurry to collect her things as she knows the weight of what she will encounter next. As she exits the airport she finds Mama and her sister standing near the taxi stand. Despair was all around them and while Lidia knew her way home from memory, she couldn’t help but feel completely lost.

Mama rushes them in the house and quickly puts on a pot of espresso. They sit quietly stirring their glasses. The pastries remain untouched. Lidia is the first to speak asking her mother if Papa had a will. As she expects he had nothing of the sort but instead Mama slides a small black leather book across the table in her direction and says, “He told me ‘Lidia will know what to do with this. She has a gift with words.’”

Lidia frantically pages through this little black book filled with short anecdotes about everything from life and parenthood to the perfect pasta lunch. One quote in particular caught her attention, “Chi si volta, e chi si gira, sempre a casa va finire.” Or “No matter where you go or turn, you will always end up at home.” She chuckled at the irony to herself all the while wondering why Papa left this to her specifically. She flips to the back cover and taped to it is a small key— Ah! The wine cellar...perfect timing!

Lidia makes her way down to the musty old cellar happy for a moment alone to reflect. She walks through rows of abandoned bottles, each row sparking a memory of her past. Struggle, enduring, guilt. So much guilt she felt in this moment--for leaving her family in the pursuit of a frivolous dream, for not making amends with her father, for not wanting to take on the financial responsibilities of her Mama and sister.

Why did Papa insist on keeping homemade wine for this long? The smell is stale and she is nauseated. Lidia is about to give up and return to the daylight when she spots something between two wooden crates. She walks over and picks up an envelope so worn that it’s a wonder how it hasn’t split in two. Inside is a letter only a few lines long:

10 Dicembre 2008

Al mio sognatore, Lidia

Torna a casa solo quando vuoi ritrovare te stesso.

To my dreamer, Lidia,

Only return home when you want to find yourself.

Tucked away in the envelope was a second piece of paper. The header read “Banco Popular” and the end line read €20,000.

Lidia is stunned-- less so by this incredible finding--and more by her father’s approval of who she was. This letter was written 10 years prior when she was all but 18 years old. At the time he was trying to convince her to enter secretarial school like most girls from Sabbia did. Yet, silently he praised her spirit. His words in his death have said for him the things that he failed to communicate while he was living. She realizes now that her father had been the missing link in her own story. As she wipes the tears from her face she realizes that her heart is content for the first time in her life.

Lidia stuffs the pages back into the envelope and rushes out of the cellar to tell her sister and Mama the good news. She pauses and thinks to herself that it really is good to be home.

immediate family

About the author

Bianca Cardaci

Just a girl that likes to read and aspires to write! ! English Lit lover trying to reignite my passion! Hope you enjoy!

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