It’s the place I reach for heaven . . .

. . . and it reaches in return.

There is a way I know that Italy is not just an escapist dream. When I am happiest and most content with my life, I feel close to moving to Italy. When life becomes hectic and cluttered and unharmonious, Italy seems unreachable. It’s just like heaven. When life and love and I feel perfect, I’m practically there already.

Tony tells people sometimes (when it comes up) that we used to live in the Dordogne. We did. If you dream the same dream, it’s real.

Now we live in San Diego again. We spent three days visiting every available apartment in the Golden Triangle. I knew when we walked into ours that it was home. I loved the way the light came in the windows. I walked out on the balcony, and it turned into a French cafe and a secret rose garden. Left alone in the apartment for a moment, we ran crazily in circles together. Now we have bookshelves. I bought them in my favorite furniture store here. The Teak Emporium. I like it because it’s not like all those endless showrooms full of sectionals and fake plants and veneers wherever they can get away with it. They’re all the same, and you can order anything in any fabric and any color, and it takes six weeks to get there. We don’t shop very well that way. I like to walk in the store and find the perfect piece, and take it home that day. The Teak Emporium is not a showroom. Everything on the floor is for sale. And if you want a different color, they’ll have to order it made in India or Indonesia and have it made by hand, and it won’t be here for eight months. And the furniture is beautiful. It’s all teak and rosewood, and sort of cluttered around the store as if you really were in a little furniture market somewhere in Southeast Asia, and maybe when you finished shopping you were going to have coconut and green mango for lunch. There’s something very real about the store, something noticeably absent elsewhere. They wanted to get rid of the bookshelves, because even though they were beautiful – a sort of creamy, warm toffee color with a rich grain you could appreciate from across the room – the shelves were unadjustable. Charlene (the charming Tiawanese woman who had no idea how to be a salesperson, and was thus infinitely more pleasant than any of the salespeople in the other stores) kept mentioning this point regretfully. We bought them anyway, and now we need to find some other place to keep several boxes of our taller books. But the bookshelves are sensational. We also found a couch at the Teak Emporium. It’s a sort of ne0-oriental looking couch–simultaneously sinuous and precise. I liked it instantly when I saw it, but there was something wrong, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I finally isolated the dissonant component; the two-inch high metal feet, which gave a jarringly industrial overtone to the warm, almost other-wordly wood. Once Tony removed them, the coach seems to grow right out of our carpet.

It’s the first time since we lived in the Villa Maria that we’ve really decorated. It feels so different. We want to be home. Our house feels like home. Like we could really live here for a long time. Like we’ve finally really moved in. Like life is beginning again, but this time in the San Diego sun.