I'd been nervous to return to Santa Margherita Ligure. I worried that somehow the anticipation and exhilaration that only a bride can feel had softened the edges of my already wonderful memories of the town where Joey and I were married. My fears that I'd remembered Santa Margherita as fondly and without fault as a mother sees her child, however, were allayed the moment we exited the train station. Santa Margherita Ligure, with its bright blue skies and puffy white clouds, pastel-colored houses nestled in the rolling green hills, and tall palm trees lined against the azure Ligurian Sea, remained just as breathtaking as it had been on our wedding day.
After much-needed naps and showers, Joey and I strolled hand-in-hand along the shops and cafes lining the waterfront. We watched the sun set as we dined on Ligurian pesto and gnocchi and carbonara and fresh fish. Then we climbed the thousand stairs back up to our church. I can't explain the calm that I felt as Joey held me on the stoop of the church; we sat together in silence for a long time and just watched the moon.
This posting has been very, very trying for me. Living in Abuja, compounded by all of the stress from three moves in 6 months, leaving my entire family and everything I had ever known, and moving to Africa, challenged me more than I ever expected. And when your one constant, the only person with you through it all, also happens to be the only person with you through it all, that person gets to see the good, the bad, and the ugly. And I can get really. Really. Ugly. So I'm not the only one who suffered during the first six months of our tour. Joey suffered too. And so did our marriage.
I suppose I wasn't afraid as much that Santa Margherita had lost her charm; I suspect, deep down, I worried that Santa Margherita wouldn't heal the wounds inflicted from this posting, and that we'd leave as bitter as we'd arrived. I knew that it wasn't Joey's fault that we got posted where we did; I'd had an equal say in his bid list. But just because your mind knows something doesn't mean your heart will believe it.
But I do believe in true love, and I believe even more that I married my soul-mate. And maybe it was Santa Margherita or maybe it was our church. Maybe it was the sea or maybe it was the full moon. Maybe it was our lovely, old memories or maybe it was the new ones we created this time around. Nevertheless, three days later when we boarded our train to Rome, Joey and I knew we were going to be okay.