This post is inspired by Sunday Scribblings‘ prompt “goodbyes”:
I’ve been asked countless times by strangers, close friends and family, and everyone in between how I ended up in southern Italy. It’s really a rather mundane answer, actually, if you break it down to its barest element.
I decided to come.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well for me, it was. Whenever faced with big decisions, I go through the motions of weighing pros and cons, but I always know what I’m going to do anyway. Once an enticing idea enters my mind, it’s all systems go. I have instincts, and I follow them, and that’s why I’m here.
Three and a half years ago, I came to Italy, saying goodbye to the United States, my family, my friends, my apartment, my profession, my native language, my general comfort level, and so much more. All of that sounds scary now looking at it in print, but I swear to you, it didn’t even phase me at the time.
Looking back, even I can’t believe that, but this is a common theme in my life. When I went away to a prestigious university 400 miles from home, 17 years old, not knowing a soul, not exactly from the same background as most of the students, not nearly prepared for the kind of people I’d be surrounded by, I wasn’t scared or nervous at all. How ridiculous is that?
Some may call it habitual naiveté, but I like to call it dancing to the rhythm of the universe instead of sitting this one out. Or, put another way, if you are quiet and listen to your heart, it will tell you what to do. My heart has never been one to wait for silence, though, as it speaks up whenever it damn well pleases. Not surprising, being that it’s inside of *me* and all.
So when someone asks how I ended up in Italy, how do I explain in a blurb without sounding at least a little like a loon? I’m pretty sure that the phrase “doing the universe jig” isn’t going to make things any clearer.
Sometimes I wish I had a more solid, mature, acceptable answer like that I came here for a job or heck, even a guy. But I didn’t. I came because I wanted to. Simple as that. I didn’t have a significant other or children depending on me, so there was no one to consult. Just my heart, and it told me it was time.
The most difficult part for me was leaving my family and friends, not being able to be there for all the big and everyday things that I’ll never get back. And I’m sure that some of those people still don’t get what I’ve done or approve of it. I’d guess that some of that also has to do with the idea that I left a promising legal career—my goodness just that phrase makes me want to hurl.
You see, I had done the right thing, what was expected for so long, and I most certainly don’t regret it, because it’s made me who I am. But at the ripe old age of 25, I decided to do what I really wanted, what would make me happy. I would hope that those who love me can understand and respect that, but I don’t know if that’s happened, or ever will.
And I’m at peace with that. Because when I said goodbye to my old life, I said hello to me—the real me, the one that I’d been meaning to become—and to new experiences and a way of life that just feels right. Makes perfect sense to me.
And you know what else makes perfect sense? In Italian you say “hello” and “goodbye” the same way, reminding me that where there’s a goodbye, an inevitable hello can’t be far behind.