Hanging out the washing

When I was an English Language teacher, describing the difference to a class full of Italians between house and home was not so straight forward - especially seeing as the word casa for them means both. You may have heard the phrase 'a house doesn't make a home'. Houses I have had many, a home is something that I still struggle to have.

Everytime I go back to England people ask "So you're going home?" Well, going back to where I came from is my reply. Getting back in Bologna feels more like 'home', even though I have lived more by the sea in Italy. Shopping in an Italian supermarket for ingredients to a pasta dish feels more homely. Yet sitting in a beer garden in England with friends and a cold pint of Guinness is just as warming and homely. Walking my brother's dogs feels kinda routine.

There is an image that I like of how the author of my favourite book - Vittorio Zucconi - sees his life. Having lived in the United States for over 25 years but still attached to his home of Italy he describes his life as 'washing hung out on a line between 2 buildings'. That stereotype image of Naples and its rows of washing strung between the buildings of the Quartieri Spagnoli district of the city rings true and sticks in the image bank of my mind. If I was asked who the washing belongs too, I couldn't tell you which head-scarfed mamma of which window of which building will be reeling it in at the end of the day.

Then something tells me I could quite easily string up another line to another building and hang out there too, a triangle of washing lines, a spider's web in the making.

Well we can't wear wet clothes so I will just have to keep hanging out the washing for now, on whichever line, until I look up and see from which window it is being collected, that is if I ever look up at the right time and see.


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