Before I left on my trip my expectations, my desire was to have a quintessential summer experience the likes of which I have been lucky to have a few times in my life. Full of saunter, chemistry, and good conversation. Idyllic, utterly unsustainable and unforgettable. Transitioning from this type of experience back to everyday life has never been easy for me. When they are over I long to wrap them around me like a thin blanket you would nap on the grass with.

So after a week full of cooking and wine, of good conversations with new faces, and of sweet unexpected lust that clings to my skin and desperately wants to burrow itself deeper I found myself in Napoli with my family repeating the words, the mantra I have been saying for the past year- surrender, surrender, surrender.  Surrender to the moment without trying to name it, qualify it or quantify it. Surrender because there is a current that is carrying you and you don’t yet know where it is taking you.

And surrender I have. In the storage room at work because it is far better to turn into a puddle amidst the spices and the farro and the sugarcubes than to cry in the middle of a busy restaurant. Surrender after stolen kisses in PR and NY left me wanting more of something that was not mine to have. Surrender when it’s time to leave and you want more than anything to stay but can’t. Surrender when you (and this is a first) secretly hope you are pregnant because you are so itchy to see what would happen if you had to jump in and be the very best you could be with basically a stranger because you now feel that in any relationship there are no guarantees so this could have as much chance as anything else of working.

While I was in Italy it felt as if I would not be able to write about my trip for a while but at seven in the morning I’m wide awake on Cleo’s bed in Brooklyn, and I walk to the corner for a coffee and the words start rumbling. The first word is resplendant because that’s how I felt the whole week as if shining from within. I’m seduced by Italy’s generosity, by what he has created in his home, by his library, by his intelligence and strong sense of design, by the way his face morphs from serious and stern to happy and excited, and because something about him reminds me of Michael Pollan. And because I’m me I’m sure I’m also seduced by his unavailability, by the sheer preposterousness of it all. After all there are vast amounts of land and ocean between us. After all this is a 41 year old man who has never been married- if that doesn’t have emotional unavailability written all over it… But I feel so much tenderness in my heart and my body for this man, and a strange fearless desire to fall forward into the experience of him  We talk about art, about food, about love and the rolling around on his faded aqua sheets performs a small chiropractic adjustment on my body and soul. I wake up in his bed my last morning there knowing that I’m done licking my wounds, that I’m done cocooning myself at my cousin’s house.

Italy says to me, “you and I we will never be friends.”

And I say to Italy “but we already are”.

To which he replies, “you and I will never be friends.”

“I guess we just have different definitions of the word,” I say because how can someone who helps push you forward not be your friend.

Italy says, “I’m not happy you are leaving.” But does that mean he is sad I won’t be there?

The loveliness of it all fills my head up with fantasy and my body with longing and unfulfilled desires all of which would be very un-ladylike of me to mention here. All of them but one- to spend a quiet night on his bed, our limbs entangled, watching a film projected on his wall.

When I was planning my trip a few months ago I had wanted to stop in New York on my way back to LA for three reasons. One was to see the man I have  been lusting over all year. But in the past months I lost interest. Unavailability without hope of attainability can quickly become boring. Still, I did think of him as I passed his office on my way to meet Cleo for lunch at Ino, and a bit of me hoped I would bump into him. I have spun a lot of fantasy around this man.

So here I am in New York and my internal compass spins and spins, and I want for it to stop, like a bottle, and point me in the direction of the next place I will kiss. Will it be NY? Will I live here again?

This morning sitting on Cleo’s couch looking out the fire escape at sky, and trees, and red brick I realized that it doesn’t really matter where I go. What I’m after is a place or rather a state of mind, and I already have it. I always have. I just didn’t know. And Italy, it gave me the knowledge that I’m ready again for love. Big, deep, intimate, messy love that is present and has room for all my feelings. A love that is a collaboration. A love that loves me up.

The last night at the cooking school we had a party. There was an English man there, the partner of this smart, quirky tour guide we had spent a morning with. When he was asked where his ball and chain was he shook his head and laughed. “No she is my freedom,” he said.  “She is my freedom.”

A while back I asked Stevie, “Will I fall in love again? When will I fall in love again?”

“When you know what you want,” she said.

Well, I know what I want. I want a man who feels I am his freedom.