Leaving Pisa

June 18, 2013
To truly understand a place – you must fly over it. You must grasp its geography from the long view of the sky.

Flying out of the Pisa airport in Italy this evening, looking down on the red rooftops, and then the perfect rectangles of farmland – some are green on this late June day, and some are brown.

And then a patch of forest, that seems to go right down to the ocean, but for a small group of buildings at the end of a road, the one that must take you from Pisa to the ocean, should you want to go there.

And all that is fitted into a tiny airplane window.

Tonight there is also a huge moon and, given how close we are to the very longest day of the year, even at 8:30pm we are still taking off in broad daylight.

As we fly the sky turns to pink, and then to purple.

To truly understand a place – you must love it deeply, and then have to leave it.

The stewardess hands me a cardboard package, meant to be my supper.

On the front it says Urban Eat. And under that it says BLT Wrap. On the side it promises Real Food, Hand Crafted and offers a website… www.urbaneat.co,uk.

All this in full techno branding in a clever rustic beige.

The bacon is a rather bland pink lunchmeat and the lettuce and tomato are equally non-descript.

What did I expect of British Airways?

Prosciutto, provolone and sun-roasted tomatoes?

To understand a place –  you must eat it’s food until you are addicted, and until their faux food makes you miss the place all the more.

We are flying home.

It will be hours, and maybe when I arrive sometime tomorrow I will be ready to be a US-er again.

But for now I slip my stash of Parmesan cheese out of my backpack, take a bite and pretend that I will be in Italy forever. If only red wine was allowed in a carry-on.

When you truly understand and love a place  – there are times, to survive, you may need to pretend it is your home.


Our place in North Carolina, our home in NC – from the sky.