Annamaria on Monday
My winter in the Eastern Hemisphere was extreme in a number of ways.
At 83 days, it was my longest time away from home ever.
I logged a lot of air miles: one trip took me from Hoedspruit to Jo’burg to Dubai to Rome to Florence in 28 hours. And the trip back to New York, last week—from Florence to Dusseldorf to London to New York, lasted just under 24.
During my stay in Cape Town, Stan took us down to the Cape of Good Hope, which to me, growing up in New Jersey, has always seemed like the other end of the world.
But more than the physical, it was the emotional extremes that made my last three months so intense.
For one thing, my adventurous spirit burns as bright as ever, but I am still learning to fly solo. So venturing forth comes with a great high of anticipation, but also a daunting unfilled need to validate the experience by sharing it with a dear companion. Full and empty at the same time.
This yin and yang followed me wherever I went, most intensely during that week I spent in the bush, where my soul was nourished, as it ever has been in that sacred environment. But still my heart was tugged by an ever-present longing for what was missing.
I carried two photos with me the whole while. One is my favorite photo of myself, at age 14 months. I still feel this exuberant, enthusiastic, loving child inside me, reaching out.
The other is my favorite picture of David, one I took of him looking out over the vast Serengeti. What I had with him is also still with me, though it is gone forever from my daily life.
While in this complicated state of mind, it helped me to pay close attention to the night sky. Perhaps that old saw is truly wise—that the vastness of the universe puts our petty problems in perspective. But perhaps there is a deeper truth—that all that darkness and those intense lights become truly beautiful only if we experience them as two aspects of the same picture.
|The Moon and Venus as seen from my terrace in Florence|
There is a tree next to Stan’s bungalow at Ingwelala. He told me that elephants had come into the garden and, inexplicably, after eating a few leaves from the top, broke the tree in half, leaving only a stump. It seemed dead. Then, afterwards, a new branch grew from the bare trunk. I fell in love with that tree. It seemed symbolic of my life. Something came along, something that seemed random, that tried to kill it, but it grew a new branch, and it lived.
At my request, Stan took this picture of me with that tree.