Five years ago today I embarked on an adventure that would change the course of my life. Dramatic any? Oh yea. But it is also true. Five years ago today-on April 18, 2006-I bid a tearful goodbye to my mom, dad, sister, nephew and a culmination of 30 years of life as I’d known it.
I was torn, albeit willingly, from the safety net that had cradled me most of my adult life-no, let’s be honest here, most of my life-and I was on the cusp of adulthood. (Yes, the observant reader will notice I gave away my age up there and that yes, most Americans are considered adults by the time they reach that ripe old age, however, I was subconsciously preparing myself for this southern Italian life that allows 30 year olds to be cared for and groomed into their 40s.)
But that wasn’t the only thing I should have prepared for.
“I’ve lived abroad,” I thought … “I’ve done the expat thing. How hard can this be?”
I look back on these naive thoughts with a smile and just a twinge of sadness for the girl who thought them.
That girl didn’t realize how hard it would be to be an ocean away from her favorite family traditions. She didn’t realize she’d yearn for her little nephew as if he were her own and she never thought of what it would be like to become a mother 6,000 miles away from her own.
She had it all.
As I sit here tonight-the sing-song cry of a 4-month-old baby buzzing in the background-I think about these last five years, about sacrifices and gains … a new language, a new culture, a new family.
I look at my husband, a wee bit grayer than he was five years ago, as he struggles with the swaddle blanket, then rhythmically rocks and coos our now-bellowing baby in his arms. He marches up and down the hall and the cries become muffled whimpers as our sweet, normally mild-tempered bambino gives up the fight.
He gives me a “thank-God-that’s-over” grin … the same side-grin his son has inherited, as he sits on the edge of the bed and closes his eyes.
In this moment, I think not only of my sacrifices-although they were indeed immense and life-altering, but I am reminded of all that is good about this new path. My mind fills with images of how my life has been enriched by this Calabrian experience. How I’ve had the opportunity to start my own travel business and work side-by-side with my husband and best friend.
Life is a nothing but a culmination of the choices we make, the paths we choose and the decisions on which we act and no, there is no turning back. So, if I could say one thing to that naive, starry-eyed Texan who boarded that Continental Airlines flight to Rome five years ago today, I’d say this …
Embrace your new Italian life …
Tell your parents how much you miss them …
and for God’s sake, girl, don’t eat the airplane pasta. There’s much more of that to be had, on the other side of the pond.
Want to make some of your own Calabrian memories? Click here to see how I can help you plan your trip or sign up for the Calabrian Table Tour this fall.
Photo: Thumbnail photo by Calabria Mia Show