Something about our upcoming trip to Italy has been gnawing at me.
Obviously the destination is not among our more standard far-flung fare. And we only have one flight to make instead of three or four.
Am I longing for a more difficult and distant adventure? You know, like the good old days of last year in Jordan, Egypt and India. Remember when I was deported by armed guards from the latter country? Good times.
Of course I’m excited to see Florence and Rome. Of course I’m eager to have my butt pinched by Italian men. Of course I’m delighted to see the Coliseum, the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, the Borghese Museum, the Pantheon. Of course I’m excited to eat gelato by the gallon and drink espresso until I burst. Most of all, I’m thrilled to be elsewhere again because I thrive on not being wherever I am.
There’s only one small problem. An issue about the size of a grape. Actually, the source of my angst is the very product of vines and vineyards found in abundance in Italy.
After working so hard to put alcohol behind me, I’m now headed for a country known for producing some of the best wines in the world. I’ll be strolling the piazzas and cafes, where residents and tourists enjoy the fruits of vintners’ labors.
The thought gives me pause, and even a slightly itchy feeling. But I remind myself that this won’t be such a terrible a burden to bear. My eyes will be so busy with architecture and history that they won’t have the time to focus on all the Amarone, Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino, and Passito di Pantelleria being consumed. I will be so enraptured with the environs that I won’t be able to fixate on two of my former favorite beverages — Limoncello and Grappa — being consumed by the moderate drinkers of the world.
There are worse things than being sober under the Etruscan sun. It’s not like I’m going somewhere that has no water or food. And, for crying out loud, how fortunate am I to have the privilege of travel? I’m lucky any way I look at it.
Still, indulge me. Most recovering addicts don’t have to walk along avenues lined with people glamorously enjoying the very substance they once abused. Let alone visit a whole landscape devoted to the stuff that nearly took them down.
Fortunately, I am of the rare breed that finds comfort in paradox. As I did by swimming for years to drop fractions of a second in my best race. As I did by going dry on the shores of thePersian Gulf. So I will, no doubt, successfully navigate the grapes of my wrath as well.
Looks like I shall have the kind of trip I crave — one that challenges me — after all.
Vino? Vidi. Vici.