The plan had been to go back to Italy for a 5 week trip, just like last year. To see what I would see, make more connections and continue to build the relationship with the country that I’d been working on for the past few autumns. The hope was that I could eventually live there, at least for part of the year and integrate the lifestyle into my own in a very concrete way—involving work, family and home. This was not a new idea. It’d been brewing for the better part of the last decade.
I was getting ready to go, buying the things I needed, putting my summer clothes away and thinking about what needed to be in place when I got back. I knew I wanted to move from the town I was now living—a quaint coastal village north of Boston. It had been a perfect place to be for a year and a half while I sorted some things out but really, besides the ocean, it was not right for me and I had to go. I would go when I returned home in January. But still I didn’t know to where. I had sorted some things out up there by the water, but not everything was clear and I was still clawing at the idea of home and wanted so badly to figure out where that was. Nothing was presenting itself as the right idea. I felt as though I just didn’t know much about anything.
It was early October, three weeks before I was to get on a plane to Rome. The weather was brilliant, the type of Saturday morning that makes you revel in being a New Englander. I had spent the night at a friend’s house in the Jamaica Plain. We cooked dinner from the garden, enjoyed cocktails at home and planned outfits for the following weekend’s weddings. In the morning we walked to the store for coffee and scones, sat in the sun while I still struggled to “figure it out.” This is when I think I first said, with total seriousness, “maybe I’ll just stay in Italy.” Now I’d talked about this before, for years actually but somehow at this moment it clicked. And so over the course of the day, which I spent at a harvest festival, I saw a handful of my closest friends and I talked it out. Between samples of butternut squash pies and sips of Oktoberfest, they listened and gave me words of encouragement. And on my way home, lost in my own thought driving on the Lynnway the decision was made—I would wrap up my apartment as much as possible before leaving on the 30th, put everything in storage and be done with it, leaving the door wide open to welcome whatever might come next. There were no answers, no firm plans but nothing else made any sense. My friends were all excited about the idea of me leaving for Italy and staying a year. They felt sure that I would make it happen. I was little bit less sure but pretty confident that I could take it as it came and make the best of whatever it was.
And so 3 weeks, a lot of lifting and carry, several trips to a storage unit, and several outings with every friend I could get my hands on later, I was exhausted but ready. It did not feel momentous or scary or like my life was about to change—I was just getting on a plane, landing in Rome, heading first to the Adriatic coast and after that I didn’t know much. But within the not knowing the unfolding begins.
And this is where I stand right now. In Italy, unfolding.