This trip has been challenging.
On the positive side, I coped with the inevitable difficulties that popped up along the way, without anxiety and without panic attacks.
I was able to sing a bit (though not at full strength). I coped with the language (which is not too difficult in tourist areas) and was able to expand on my meagre Italian vocabulary.
And Italy is undeniably gorgeous.
As for the rest, it was lonely. There were so many incidents, little quirky things that I saw and wanted to share but there was no one to share them with.
So many days ended up as an exercise in killing time, going to places or events not out of desire or curiosity, but because there was a vast, empty expanse of hours to fill. There have been countless hours spent in restaurants and cafes, where my only human interaction has been with waiters.
I did strike up conversations with strangers along the way, and was able to do this without the crippling anxiety that has been a part of my life for the past 2 years.
I think it hit me that this is my life now. It's not a temporary condition, based on travelling alone in a foreign country. There will be interludes with other people, some of which will be fun, but there will be no one to share the day to day stuff. It feels very bleak and empty. But if my time with Anthony has taught me anything it's that I'm not prepared to take that risk again, at least for the foreseeable future. The price is too high.
I don't know that I would go so far as to say that I regret coming here. But I'm definitely ambivalent. This trip has been my dream for nearly a decade but I fear I've spoiled it. I've been trying to run away from my life for a short space of time.
This is not the celebration I had anticipated - this was born of fear and despair. And I no longer have this dream to look forward to.
It's not exactly how I would have liked to have summed up this trip. "How was Italy?"
I guess that's better than the alternative.