Monday, December 21, 2009

a tale of two countries

there's no place like home, if you know where it is

I began writing this blog as I was preparing to finally return to America after so many years in Italy. I remember the overwhelming urge I felt to leave and the brimming excitement I felt to return. There is nothing like relinquishing all the trappings of your home, language, family, surroundings, culture and familiarity for a long time, a large chunk of your years in this life, that makes you wonder who you really are. It is scary and exciting; it is lonely and awesome. Ask any expat who manages to stay away beyond the third year, and they will tell you what loneliness and insecurity really feel like. They will also tell you what it feels like to really get to know yourself, for lack of anyone else who understands what the hell you are saying.

My husband and I have somehow, against all odds, managed to imagine the same future. I think this is one of the most important components of a happy marriage. If your dreams manage to coincide, you just may make it. We have found a buyer for our house in Italy. Selling our house, the fruits of our intense labor in the early years of our marriage, means that we may have a taste of financial freedom. We may come close to paying off our mortgage here, and be able to work a bit less. I want to work less. I don't care about things or cars or toys. I want to paint more, ski more, travel more and breathe more. I don't want a bigger house or finer clothes. I don't want more things tying me down.

We are planning to spend summers in Italy and the rest of the year here in Colorado. My older son is considering attending an Italian university as opposed to an American school (translate: 1000 Euros a year tuition). I can tend to any major medical issues in Italy (translate: free of cost, truly the land of the civilized). My sons are stretched over the same bridge that I am, one foot here and one foot there. They are only just now getting an inkling of how lucky they are.

Because the plain truth is, for anyone who has been reading long enough to know me at all to laugh out loud, I miss Italy. Just not always.

So many years away means that I am not only an expat when in Italy, but also when in America. I am a citizen of nowhere and everywhere. A tale of two countries.


Jennifer said...

I get it. I was saying the same thing to my sister. I'm an outsider in Italy and I'm an outsider here. Hopefully we will find a way to enjoy the best of both worlds one day too.

anno said...

The thing about writing, you never know how deeply something might resonate. I love this post, love the view of the road ahead of you; it's a bit of an inspiration, one I needed to hear. Wishing you all the best -- Merry Christmas!

Carol said...

My dad recently went back to Germany, from where he emigrated to America when he was 24. In America, he has always had a strong German accent, but when he went back to Germany, a local asked him if he was from TEXAS. He's never been to Texas! At the age of 70-something, after 50 years in America, that made him feel like a man without a country!