I grew up in a small southeast Texas town called KOUNTZE! There are about 2,000 people who live there, and like it or not, everyone knows each other (and their business) inside and out. I was blessed with a wonderful, super-supportive family who gave me the tools I needed to have a successful life.
After college I worked a few years in Orlando, FL in various roles for Walt Disney World. One day while browsing through “Eyes and Ears,” the WDW bi-weekly, I noticed an ad for Disneyland Paris recruitment. I attended the info session and interviewed for a position. Somehow, without speaking a word of French, and out of over 300 applicants, I was selected. So, in March 2000 I relocated to Paris.
A few months later I met him. The Italian! The tall, dark, and handsome stranger who seemed to float through the apartment complex with all eyes gazed upon him. Only later – many years later actually – did I learn he is actually quite shy, which, to be honest, was only more endearing. Well, life being what it was, the handsome Italian didn’t speak a word of English, and we already know I had a weak French level, so our “friendship” ended there. Sometimes we would see each other and smile or wave, but deep conversations, there were none. He moved back to Italy to help care for his ailing mother, and I returned to the states with an expired visa. One day, on a whim actually, I sent him an email to check on his mother … and that is how it began.
For the next two years we communicated constantly. The handsome Italian, let’s call him, Peppe, gradually learned the English language. We sent letters, postcards, and small gifts to each other. Although we were thousands of miles apart, we seemed to be living parallel lives. His mother had Parkinson’s, my father had a stroke. We both had left our jobs in Paris and were looking for employment closer to our families. We supported each other. I secretly dreamed of the day when we would be “together,” but I didn’t really think it would happen. I am a huge day-dreamer, and I was convinced he was another of my silly “dreams.” I didn’t think he could really be that wonderful “in real life.”
Little did I know, he felt the same way about me. Before his mother passed away, she encouraged him to visit me and see if it was “real.” He finally took the risk and hopped on a plane for Houston. Two days after he arrived we had “the talk” and agreed our relationship was not purely platonic. We knew it would be hard but we wanted to try to make it work.
After almost four years of flying back and forth and taking long vacations, I made the move. In April 2006, I quit my job, sold most of my belongings, packed four very full and very heavy suitcases-mostly with clothes and shoes-and headed across the ocean. This is my story. I know it will have sad moments, scary moments and a few what the HELL moments, but I look forward to the new experiences I will have. And as my mom reminds me – if I don’t like it, I can always go home.”