Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Getaway

Last night, as I held my eyelids open with toothpicks and tried to have a decent conversation with my husband before passing out in my plate of pasta, he deftly managed to define perfectly an ephemeral, vague feeling that's been hovering around us ever since we went public with or plans to move to Colorado. He does that sometimes, this man of very, very, maddeningly few words. He hits the nail right on the head.

Many people are envious. Any of you who have been here long know how I feel about that particular poison. And ever since he used that word, I realize that he is so right. And it's gross.

I've often written about how much I love to be alone, and how my husband and I also love to be alone together, but lately I've found myself becoming more and more of a hermit, which is ironic in light of the fact that we are leaving in two weeks. But the fact is that almost all of the people here, whether family, friends or acquaintances, are a bit indignant and pissed off about our flying the coop.

There is a tangible sense of life being some kind of invisible trap here, and the valley walls that envelop so tightly and so beautifully this little town are also a kind of self-imposed prison for many people who live here. Many who I have met in Italy have the sense that where you are born is where you will stay, no matter what, both physically and symbolically. There is rarely any sense of personal choice in the matter, or personal responsibility. For me, being the americana that I am, this has been next to impossible to understand, and the worst part about it is people's sense that I am somehow free, and they are not. I can't tell you how many people have looked at us a bit wistfully and said, "Oh, you two have always just been so lucky...", as if someone handed us our life on a silver platter, when the truth is that I, like just about everyone else, have rarely been handed anything. This is probably the single biggest risk we have ever taken together, and as with all risks, we could fall flat on our faces, with children in tow. The truth of the matter, as my once again prophetic husband put it, is that we're the only ones around here with any balls!

And since one of the joys of being forty is that you just stop giving a shit what other people think of you, this morning I made a new placard, with photo, that I am sticking on our mailbox when we leave...

The former digs of Bonnie and Clyde

no fowarding address


Jenn in Holland said...

We often get that same kind of response from people and it can be a bit maddening. Nothing we have done and nowhere we have come has happened to us by luck or by chance. I suppose it can look that way from the outside that we lead some sort of charmed life, but I know you understand when I say, that the picture is much deeper than what is seen from the outside.
I know you must be anxious to just hit the road and get on with the new adventure. Soon, Jennifer. It will be happening soon.

Jennifer said...

Awesome! I love you two as Bonnie and Clyde in that pose. You MUST add that shot somewhere to your blog template. It is so perfect.

I had never thought of this before in that way. I usually think of it as a larger problem in which many Italians refuse to take responsibility for their lives. I see it as vicious cycle that begins when children are not taught about accountability and responsibility and not just entitlement and continues on through school and into the workforce.

We feel the envy you describe mainly in the form of a couple of our friends' resentment towards my husband, for taking risks (professionally and geographically). Some worked out great and others ended up going so badly we were traumatized for months, but hey, in the long run, it has worked out.

What I can't stand is when they try to discourage us from making decisions based on our experiences. I guess they feel they know a lot more about moving, changing jobs, etc., although I can't quite see why.

How many more days to your move?

jennifer said...

14 days from today...

Cate said...

Love it!

anno said...

Love the bleak humor of Bonnie & Clyde. Is that kind of like the knifeblade of light in the eggplant purple from your watercolor of yesterday?

As ever, completely awestruck by your ability to match image to situation.

jennifer said...

Thank you anno

Marloes said...

That is what living in a small place will do to you.With our move to Arnhem we left all that behind in my little hometown, but boy do I miss it sometimes. Not the envy, but the closeness and the social control, knowing there would always be someone one could go to in times of trouble.
We are thinking of moving back down south in a couple of years. Not the hoemtown, but a larger one down the road will do us fine..:o)

Rebecca said...

"Many who I have met in Italy have the sense that where you are born is where you will stay, no matter what, both physically and symbolically. There is rarely any sense of personal choice in the matter, or personal responsibility."

That's fascinating Jennifer - I love the insights into Italian culture you provide here.

Being subject to resentment/ jealousy is very hard to deal with.