Epiphany #1: Christmas evening we're watching the new release of Pinnochio at the cinema on the edge of Piazza Cavour near our hotel. It's all in Italian, but knowing the story, we follow along, recognizing a few words and phrases here and there. Roberto Benigni plays Geppetto and I'm transported back to the version of the story I learned as a child. I don't even remember that it is an Italian story until it unfolds on the screen.
Surrounded by caring and kind Italian families both in the cinema and for the week we've been touring around, I get a sense of the warmth I experienced from my grandfather and on occasion my father. There's a tenderness about the interactions. Protective and caring. And then it dawns on me...
I'm in Rome.
I'm in Rome, Italy.
This is where my family is from. This is where their family is from. Generations of Italian families growing up with this warm, kind attention and affection. With this caring.
I can remember it from my grandparents. I can remember it whenever I see loving and caring families, but this is different. Because everyone looks a lot like me. A lot like I did as a child. A lot like I'm beginning to look as a mature adult.
This. This culture of warmth is what I remember in my earliest childhood memories. The togetherness. The food as love. The guidance. The looking up to my parents with awe and reverence.
They wanted this for us. They wanted to give us this container of compassionate caring. This is what they were trying to build in the American culture of their time and place. In northern California, specifically in the Sonoma and Napa valley region.
I well up with tears during the movie and by the time we exit, I'm holding back sobs. Important sobs. I'm feeling embarrassed, as I usually do when I can't control or name what's happening. I finally stammer to Jim, "I don't know what's happening, but I need to just sit and experience it until it passes."
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