Another Christmas Abroad for the Nomad

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Sleepless in Sicily. Was it the full moon? The Winter Solstice? No, probably the ¾-pound bag of pistachios I munched on all day yesterday.

Throughout the last two years of nomad life, pistachios have become an addiction. Here in Sicily, it’s one  of the great crops. At least it’s not sugar, right? Maybe not the ¾-pound bag, though.

It’s a sunny, beautiful day and I’ve been taking it easy so far, but I’m clock-watching and will have a shower shortly, then walk toward the Siciliy ports after this. I’ll leave my computer at home and just enjoy my afternoon. I’m not the only one enjoying the home front today. My neighbour is blasting Italian music as they presumably clean for the holidays.

Part of me is very “bah, humbug” about getting out, though. I’ve frankly never been as homesick as I am now. Three years of travel has taken its toll and I just don’t want to be abroad anymore. Yesterday was the four-month countdown to landing in Canada. Nine months from now, I’ll have assembled a starter home in Ottawa, Canada and be ready for the onslaught of winter.

But that’s then, this is now.

Just up the street from me, this is one of the amazing little churches in Palermo.

Now, I’m daydreaming of Canada. I’m dreaming of kitchens. Literally, last night, I dreamed about making homemade McMuffins – of going to Ottawa’s Little Italy (irony) for beautiful sausages to turn into patties, of making homemade English muffins, of buying aged cheddar for slices, of finding little silicone cups to make easy work of poaching eggs. I even dreamed of having a “Griddler” appliance again and ordering the waffle-making inserts.

What my “nomad travel” followers don’t know is that I’ve got a real Suzie Homemaker in me. These days, I’m constantly imagining things like wiring a homemade lamp or refinishing furniture and doing decoupage. I hope to refinish a dresser every month to re-sell while I live in Ottawa, as both a passion project but a little side-earning gig. I dream of things I can do with my hands, creative passions I can explore beyond words and photos. (Although I want to make cards of my photography and sell them at markets.)

Right now, my fantasies are all of crafty, cooking, or nesting activities.

But dreaming of making McMuffins? Really? I mean, I’ve never been this far gone, people. I’m so crazy-homesick about having a home again.

Part of that is that this is a highly domestic time for families in Sicily. People are shopping for groceries, cooking at home, celebrating each other, planning elaborate feasts. And soon, they’ll all be behind closed doors, enjoying each other, and I’ll be in my fat pants, eating the same-old, same-old, watching something on Netflix, and dreaming of Christmas among people who matter to me, in a culture that is familiar to me.

It’s my fourth Christmas abroad and I doubt it will be my last one ever, but next year will be in Canada.

The weather is beautiful, though, and should be for much of the next week, so I will enjoy that.

After some pretty sketchy weather for a bit, this marked the beginning of a return to nice weather here, and there will be much sun over my final two weeks in Palermo.

Still, I’m working some over Christmas, since I want to make as much money as possible before returning to Canada. I’ve got a kitchen to outfit, haven’t I? That Griddler and Instant Pot are gonna cost me some coin.

But for now, I’m in Sicily. And homesick. And a little sad.

I think we don’t feel loss and sadness about dead loved ones like we do at Christmas. I’m so heartbroken I can’t call my mom or dad, as I think about them constantly right now. Just every day, they’re on my mind. And with loss and remembrance comes regrets and what-ifs.

That’s part of the reason I’m ending the nomad experience for a while, because these experiences are great, but if you can’t share them with people, well…

And yes, I “share” them with readers, but that’s not the same. It’s an adventure party of one. For a long time, it’s great. It’s freeing. But it’s a little like hearing yourself speak – for most of us, it eventually gets old. For me, I long for real human connections with people I can see and enjoy and commiserate with on a personal level. This fleeting life of United Nations-ish single-serving friends has played out.

It’s one of the reasons I hate being out at night-time here in Sicily. Yes, the city has a great night vibe – but it’s all people connecting with others they know and love and enjoy, and it’s just a reminder of how much of that I’ve had to sacrifice to live this life, it’s a reminder than I’m here alone.

But, also, what do you do at night? You spend money drinking or eating. It’s not like you can really enjoy anything for free. And, as a single woman, there’s always that element of “is it really safe?”

Spending isn’t that big a deal, despite the Canadian currency losing value recently. I’m certainly not broke, but I’m aware of how expensive things are here. I haven’t been wowed by the food scene, because I cook pretty nicely at home. Instead, I’ve been enjoying the ingredients and cooking. Budget-friendly, that!

Meanwhile – Christmas in Palermo is something I must survive and at least make a show of enjoying because I will likely never do this again. I shall wander a bit shortly, so I can catch the sun and a sunset, but also some seasonal Christmas lights. Tomorrow, it’ll be opera night at one of the world’s greatest opera houses, and I’m excited about that, for sure. The day after is Christmas Eve, a day for getting out early so I can buy some groceries, enjoy the bustle of everyone doing the same, and later, prepare them. I’m deliberating a very expensive aged steak as a treat. God knows I can probably cook it better than most restaurants can.

I may attend Christmas Eve mass at the cathedral, but I might wait until Christmas morning too. I’m not sure. Even the 26th is a holy day here, so I have plenty of choice of services to attend.

But meanwhile, I’m getting a sunburn in 18-degree sunshine on my terrace, and it’s time to have a shower and get out there to enjoy the city – homesick nomad or not. Ho, ho, ho.

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