Tangled curls twist downward towards tanned feet, hiding a face freckled by the Italian sun. This is the image reflected in the dirty window of the crowded commuter train I take every morning. I slowly become less aware of how hot it is, as the train rocks past scenery only God could have designed. The sea hurls itself against the mountainside in a foamy fury and the mountain, steadfast, responds with ancient poise.
Every station gives me fifteen seconds to see the architecture and culture of each town. We move from fresh fish at the pescheria to aged prosciutto at the salumeria. I smile at a few things that don’t change at all, old ladies stopping to gossip about the same things they’ve gossiped about for forty years, surrounded by children playing soccer in the streets. And I wonder to myself how I’ll have the courage to leave this place.
My name, Sarah, is pronounced differently here in Italy; the locals roll it over in their mouths, then sing an exotic “Sah-rah.” I’m 28 years old. I’ve lived in Gaeta, a small coastal town 50 miles north of Naples, for 9 years, my entire adult life. In my backyard, I have a vineyard, an olive orchard, a vegetable garden, ten rabbits, five chickens, and three goats. La dolce vita.