The train slows, creeping into the station. I left Naples, Italy this morning at 9:50AM and have been on a train for the last five hours heading to Sicily. Two weeks ago I didn’t realize that I would end up in Italy. However, I found a 17 Euro airline ticket to Bari, Italy and had to jump at the good deal. Gobbling up a sale that was too good to pass up.
As the train slows, more employees swarm than usual. I think nothing of it feeling safe in my assigned seat. I know in this seat I won’t have to experience a conversation that I don’t understand- trying to determine the issue through various grandiose gesticulations. We starts to move backwards and this change in direction forces me to look up. I see the edge of the water, the Mediterranean that lies between the toe of the Italian boot and Sicily. The water’s edge gets closer and I realize that we are being loaded onto a ferry.
I marvel at this feat. A train loaded with each seat full, too much baggage and trash cans full of consumed bottles of frizzante and packages of Ringo cookies. The train stops gently; not the abrupt end that I’m used to. I question if we will be able to go out onto the deck while we ride the ferry across the 3km stretch of water. I decide I’ll wait to see if anyone else makes their way outside before I make my move. But once the train comes to a halt, the entirety of the train car stands. I follow the Italians out of the train knowing they are in the know. I remember the ignored previous messages on the train over muffled intercoms that were incomprehensible to me.
I step over the threshold that you have to be wary of on ships to climb the stairs away from the train. That little lip of the door that could easily trip you. The sun touches my hand on the railing, the wind picks up my hair as I get further from the train. I exit onto the deck walking to the edge. Already dodging those standing at the railing taking selfies and facetiming their families, allowing them to marvel at the beauty across the world. The wind is more fierce and lifts a faint sea spray from the waves created by the ferry. The breeze dances around my body, whipping my hair and allowing the hours of train to be blown away from me.
The water is different than the last time I was near it. I had waded into the Southern waters of Portugal not even a week ago. The aquamarine water with crystal clear clarity. Now, the water is a deep royal blue. Still crisp, but feels more regal. The coastline of Sicily is close. Green, rock cragged mountains loom before me with perfect Italian architecture perched atop the peaks. The ocean spray coats my glasses and the hot Sicilian sun quickly dries the salt on my lenses. It reminds me of the smudges that were illuminated on my glasses when I arrived in Paris and was taking the metro. The first day of this journey. I smile and think of how far I have come since that memory; walking 900km from France to the edge of Spain, meeting some of the most important people in my life, the trials that I have conquered and the moments that I have felt proud of my accomplishments, the happiness I have found that I always have had, but I just had to find within. Thinking of the realization that my search for happiness is a personal model, not something that others can abide by and nothing that I can learn from anyone else. I take my glasses off and wipe the dried salt off. I gaze over the edge of the ferry excited for what the mountainous, green island of Sicily will bring my way.
As the train picks up speed out of the station to follow the coastline, the majority of the passengers start to slump in their seat to fall asleep for the next four hours of our journey. The back of the train starts to illuminate with the familiar orange of a setting sun. I turn around to gaze out the window behind me to get a glimpse of the setting sun. An older Italian woman stands in front of the window, silhoutted by the setting sun, her hand placed gently against the glass to balance herself against the rock of the train. She reaches up and clutches the rosary hanging from her neck and sighs a sound of deep contentment. I smile and my eyes start to well with tears as I share her same feeling as the beauty of the sunset punctuates the gratitude that I have for this unexpected day.