Who needs Facebook, when a major earthquake in your area can bring you all the old friends and family you could want. This is what happened last month when there was a major earthquake near my home in Umbria. I was inundated with phone calls and fifty five (55!)emails not only from my best friends and closest family, but also from from people far in my past, peripheral in my life, and nearly forgotten. Quelle surprise!
Of course, hours after the news broke, I immediately heard from my closest and dearest: the people that sustain me, which is always appreciated as living in Europe can sometimes feel like out of sight/out of mind. Non e vero! Not true. I was reminded of the connection, the love, the bond. So wonderful if bittersweet. It’s too facile for me to think I’d been forgotten, even though, yes, I’m the one who left The States. Instead, my relationships that were made, nurtured, and maintained with great tenacity over many decades proved again to be the real deal. Those closest to me know that I’ve never taken them, or our friendship for granted, and vice versa. It reminds me of something my sister said to me many years ago: she didn’t know anyone who worked as hard as I did on my friendships.
Yet to hear from former lovers, mere acquaintances, friends who had drifted away through the years, and family members who I haven’t seen in ages was such a thrill. Even my tax preparer in California! Ok, she had my email address, but how did the others find me without Facebook? Somehow they did. I was reminded of how many people I’ve touched through the years, no pun intended, and how many people, now no longer close to me, who were affected by me in one way or another. I was happy to hear from everyone near and far.
I’m now communicating with some of these people who’d faded from my life, and it all seems ok, if a bit weird. I guess that’s what Facebook can provide, although now I’ve proven that one doesn’t need that social network if you live in earthquake country. Phone calls and emails still suffice!
The fact is, while the earthquake didn’t do any damage to our house, it was a big jolt. A shaking that instantaneously I knew was an earthquake and not an explosion, nor thunder. It was startling and frightening. All lights came on in our house and everyone else’s in our piazza. Some people gathered outside. I went back to bed holding Georgia our dog, who had awakened barking as the tremor hit. I comforted her, as she comforted me, while my partner fell fast asleep.
Having visited the town of Amatrice and the immediate area of the epicenter of the earthquake many times in the past, made the moment vividly clear that we live in a seismically active zone, not unlike Marin County California where we last lived. The towns in Italy that were destroyed were so charming, so lovely in their antiquity, but so vulnerable. The takeaway must be to cherish the moment, embrace the good life we have, and mourn for those who were profoundly affected by such devastation. Perhaps, also to start retrofitting this priceless but fragile country.
Days after the earthquake and this lovefest, I booked a trip to The States. Until then I’d had no strong desire to make the trek. Now I’m actually looking forward to spending time there in order to embrace family and dear friends, and old acquaintances too. Oh, and grab a few donuts and bagels while I’m at it!