three pilgrimages

The holy road trip. And it is holy, as far as I’m concerned. It’s the modern pilgrimage. And when we can’t go on that pilgrimage ourselves, we watch film after film after film of two people in a car on a quest who end up having some sort of massive revelation in Utah before either dying or crossing over into an Utopian Mexico with no border.IMG_0580

Modern forms of prayer, parable and pilgrimage fascinate me. We find ways of doing them, even if we never walk the Camino to Santiago, take the road to Mecca or wander in the wilderness on a rite of passage. I think the three holy Ps are a necessary part of our health, no matter what form they take, I think we find our own way to do these things. We take a journey, we tell our stories, we have our conversations with the Unseen.

My unconscious need for the three Ps, for the need to acknowledge milestones, never ceases to amaze me. Why am I taking three major road trips this spring? I never really thought about it. I just did it. But when I did the math this week…this year marks five years alone. This year marks ten years since I was married, bought a house, did Espresso, became pregnant and my father died.

I don’t speak about my divorce. I am private about that out of respect. But I don’t want to contribute to the idea of “conscious uncoupling” by just writing about the fact that Michael and I are amicable. I am not here to comment on a celebrity marriage I can’t possibly know anything about. But let me say this, I don’t believe in the concept of “conscious uncoupling”. You can’t uncouple. Marriage isn’t a yoga pose you can simply untangle your limbs from. It is life or death surgery with no anaesthetic. It is the last option and it is always terrible odds and one of those “never been done before” experiments. It is the removal of vital organs, it is a profound transfusion that takes at least five years to recover from – if one recovers. And it is an operation that effects the entire family, extended family and friends. Though it can be amicable and filled with many good days, at the heart It is nothing short of horrifying and none of us will ever ever ever be the same again. And this was a “good” divorce: no lawyers, joint custody, we remain good friends, our daughter is thriving.

So yes, it’s been a full five years. Right about now the dust has settled, the scrambling has stopped, the survival mode is off, many deep breaths have been taken, self esteem is piecing itself back together, friends are cautiously returning and our family has been solidly rebuilt into this new structure. I am profoundly grateful.

It is time. It is time to mark the milestone. Something important happened here.IMG_0471

I’m beginning to realize the road trip, the pilgrimage, isn’t about visiting a place I’ve never seen before, it’s about returning to the beginning. What’s great about it is: it isn’t a wallowing in the past – you know? It isn’t sitting in the fetal position regurgitating the time I fell out of my highchair. It’s a visit back to the centre of things with new information. I am going to Disneyland as a single Mom. I watch Belle tame the Beast with her beauty and her magical kiss. I watch him change instantaneously into a handsome hygienic prince. I see her gasp with delight. Okay. So, if she loved and accepted the beast for who he was, why was she so bloody delighted when he transformed? This story isn’t about acceptance. This story is about pretending to accept a beast in order to change him into a prince later. It’s about being arrogant enough to think that beauty and sex can lead to this transformation and that this transformation is necessary and in the beast’s best interest even though the beast doesn’t know it at the time.

I think Belle is the beast.

But I’ll have that conversation with Nora later.

But Disney was also wonderful. I loved sharing the rides and the beauty with her and the fun. I loved the flying Dumbos and Space Mountain and the pretty princess castle and Winnie the Pooh and the undersea hippos. I loved having wonder with her. Her Mickey is my Mickey.

My next road trip is to Italy. I haven’t been back for 33 years. Our family went when I was 11 years old, the happiest time of my childhood. I am going back to stay in the Grieco home my Nonna owns. It’s been in our family for generations. I wonder if the old ladies still dry their tomatoes out on their front porch and sit there to bat away the flies? I wonder if my Zia will serve us those tiny little black snails we have to suck out of the shell? I wonder if there is still the gelato cart that makes its endless rounds of the palazzo? I wonder how it will all hit me now?

I read my friend Rob Repicky’s journal of his pilgrimage, walking the camino to Santiago. For those of you who saw Leave of Absence, he inspired that play. In his journal he said something about the impact of the pilgrimage not being felt until much later. At the time it’s a journey. It’s blistered feet and hydration, beautiful sunsets, a great bottle of wine. It’s a cranky traveler, a handful of almonds, a pelican on a roof top. Later something big and deep and rich shifts inside. He described a moment where he felt “cracked open”.

I mentioned I was going on three pilgrimages: Disney, Italy and the final one is Espresso. I am journeying into that imaginary world again after ten years. It’s my Muse’s pilgrimage. I wonder how I will see it now? I wonder how it will crack me open? It’s all about pilgrimage itself, actually. Rosa revisits the time of her father’s car accident and how it continues to challenge her to be courageous enough to remain open to Love. She ends the play with a pilgrimage she does with Nonna.

All of this just dawned on me recently. I was afraid of doing Espresso again, frankly. It was such a big hit, I was worried I would not live up to people’s expectations. But I see it for what it is now: a pilgrimage. It is an entirely new journey with new travellers along for the ride. If we get behind the wheel, pack up our bags and go, we will truly arrive. We will crack open. It will be a new journey. And it will be life changing. How can it not?


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1 comment

  1. Lynn

    I love your reference to “pilgrimages” in describing these events. So happy for you that you could get away and experience Disneyland with your daughter. I hope that you have an exciting, meaningful trip to Italy. And I am looking forward to seeing Espresso again. It was very deep and powerful, I can’t wait to see how it will affect me a second time. I’m so glad that you are doing it again! I appreciate your writing and your acting, Lucia. Thanks for sharing your stories as we all travel along. Blessings on your life journey.

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