On July 13, 2010, I busily blazed through my apartment trying to prep every last minute detail of my life from one way to another and from one country to another. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, and I couldn’t stop my mind from running through its check lists, fear factors, trepidation, and excitement because I was about to embark on the biggest adventure of my life. I was terrified, but like a ship headed out to sea, I stepped on it and I didn't turn back because as easy as it would’ve been to jump ship along the way and return to what was familiar, I then would've wondered what might have been if I had fought through all the hardships.
Fighting is the one emotion and action that I spent little, if no, time doing before coming to Italy. In fact, conflict was my top choice of things to avoid, but as most of you know, Italy has taken me through the trenches and I have never fought so much to do or have something in my life as I have with this venture.
I spent years learning to speak Italian and I've gotten pretty good, but I'm never without occasional difficulty or confusion. The best way for me to both learn and teach language has been to take it as it is without trying too hard to define, or even necessarily, understand it. I've had to just listen to how words are used and said rather than look them up in the dictionary because they don’t have a perfectly defined definition and neither does my life here in the end.
Not only was it a legal bureaucratic nightmare to become a resident in this country, but even when I did, I never fully felt that I fit in, nor do I feel that I belong back where I came from, so I'm a pendulum swinging between two countries and loving and hating things about both of them. The best part, however, is that because I don't completely feel American or Italian, I don't have to live according to the rules of either of them, so I get to do whatever I deem fit without having to follow either of the society's prescriptions.
Up until the covid quarantine, I spent most of my years in Italy financially broke, but I've still been much happier being poor here than working in a bank back in America. In fact, although teaching isn't particularly profitable, it has been one of my biggest life blessings. I had no idea I was a teacher, could be a teacher, or would want to teach, but teaching English has supported me for 11 years and it has not only helped me improve my writing, but it has given me invaluable and innumerous opportunities to lead others, gain communication skills, and meet great people. Above all, I have been supported easily and entirely in my role and I have learned what if feels like to enjoy going to work every day. To me, it hasn't even felt like work really, but just an activity that is part of my day and on top of it, I receive money.
Lastly and most importantly, I came to Italy for love and I found it in more ways than one. The love that I originally came for turned out to be what I consider my life's biggest homework to understand and complete. I do believe that my marriage was destiny because I needed it to learn what was and wasn't right for me. I left it completely depleted and alone as a single mother in a foreign country, but hitting rock bottom gave me the opportunity to start again and cultivate loving myself completely. I've also been blessed with the eternal love of my daughter with me.
For some unexplainable reason, Italy is the main protagonist of my story and I have loved it since the moment I stepped off the train in Venice almost 20 years ago while I was travelling. It was love at first sight and a love that I actually got right because even after 13 years as a resident, my curiosity to explore and discover all that Italy has to offer flourishes and I even appreciate the difficulties and emotions that have come from my experience because they have taken me from the top to the bottom of my soul and back again. I have never loved anything quite like this and that has made it all worth it.