04 February 2007
sunday scribblings: you say goodbye, i say hello

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.

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25 Comments:

Blogger Ninotchka said...

What a perfect introductory post for me to read! I admire your self-reliance and sense of adventure. Two attributes that perfectly compliment one another, come to think of it. :)

Anonymous vespa-rosso said...

I loved what you said about the word 'ciao'. Great post and tie-in to your adopted culture.

Blogger Annika said...

Oh my gosh, that is a beautiful and inspirational post and exactly what I needed to read right now. Thank you for writing!

Blogger Waspgoddess said...

Thanks for sharing you story. I particularly like your closing statement. I think I'm going to write it down to remind myself, perhaps it will help make separations less sad. Less finite.

Blogger Gil said...

You left a promising legal career and now you have a real life! Just think if you were in a major law firm, in a major US city would you even have enough time to yourself to enrich your life one bit. Keep writing this interesting blog.

Blogger gautami tripathy said...

You did what your heart desired. I admire your spirit!

gautami
Finally....

Blogger GreenishLady said...

I have to echo what some of the other commenters said about your statement about 'ciao'. Hello/Goodbye - two sides of a coin. Lovely thought. Thank you.

Anonymous bella said...

That is, the best story ever. I don't know many people, who at such a young age, decided to do what they believed was the right thing for them.
My dear, that kind of courage, is inspiring.

Very moving post.

Originally I was planning to move within 3 years (I need to get my finances together) but I don't think I can wait that long. Life is too short.

Blogger Crafty Green Poet said...

Well I can certainly understand moving to italy just because you want to!! (Not that I've done it myself!).

Anonymous Paris Parfait said...

I did something similar once - was living in New York and although I'd been to the Middle East on assignment, hadn't lived there. I got on a plane without a place to stay or a job, and within two days of arriving in Amman I had both - as a television interviewer for English news. At the time I had no commitments to anyone but myself, so I could do whatever I wanted. And I figured the worst thing that would happen would be returning to New York (a great city). I think you're very brave and wise to follow your heart. Usually when people make great leaps of imagination, all sorts of possibilities and prospects unfold. I'm so glad you've taken advantage of yours and have made a life for yourself that pleases you, in a beautiful country! As for other people understanding your actions, some people probably won't - but it's your life and you must do what makes you happy, as you've discovered. Best of luck to you in your continuing adventures in Italy!

Blogger Becslifeonline said...

That's a lovely post. I'm glad you did what your heart told you to do. You'll always be happy if you follow your heart. Thanks for sharing this!

Blogger jenica said...

following your heart can never take you to a bad place. i loved this post!

Blogger Johnaesthetica said...

Ah, nice post.

I read another really good post about the topic here, http://www.melindagallo.com/blog/details.php?d=2007-01-28.

Definitely a refreshing read for wannabe expats.

-John

Blogger Sharon said...

How many times have your neighbors asked ..*how can you live away from your family?*

That is my most unfavorite question!

I like that you moved because you wanted to. Best reason in the world.

Blogger The Other Girl said...

I really admire you for just picking up and moving like that. I met a woman recently, who at the age of 70something was selling her house and leaving Seattle. When I asked her where she was going, she just grinned and said, "I haven't decided yet!" I have a feeling that when you are her age, you will be exactly that kind of kickass old broad (and I mean that in a good way).

Blogger twilightspider said...

This is so inspiring to me - and couldn't come at a better time in my life. I'm hoping to get out of my comfort zone and on to exploring in the next few months, though I'm not doing it as fearlessly as you have.

Thank you for sharing this, I may have to come back and revisit it to build up my courage...

Blogger Kali said...

What an inspirational post! I am so very happy you followed your heart.

I sometimes wish I had done the exact same thing, way back when....I am a tad bit envious of you! I'll just make the best of it though, living my life here but vacationing in Italy!

Blogger chest of drawers said...

WONDERFUL POST!!!
I can really identify with such a move. Often people will ask me why I did this and why I did that and my answer is often "because I felt like it" or "because I wanted to". Dissapproving looks all around - I wonder why it´s so frowned upon to be selfish.

Anonymous jay said...

Ciao Sognatrice

I am really interested to know how you came up with you're blog name? Is there some inspiring story behind it? It's such a great name!
Ciao Jay

Blogger Jenny said...

I am:
impressed, jealous, envious, intrigued. very cool.

Blogger Emsk said...

Good for you, ragazza! I imagine the pressure you felt when chucking in the 'promising law career' was acute, but it sounds as if you really did the right thing. Have you ever had the chance to apply your law savvy to your life in Italy, out of interest?

Ciao... now I'd never really thought of it the way you put it.

Blogger sognatrice said...

I see now that I hadn't responded to comments on this post...hmm...anyway, thanks to everyone who commented and said nice things about me :)

Thanks John for that link.

Sharon, yes, that question is definitely annoying--especially when they talk about my mom, "poverina!"

Emsk, I still use my legal knowledge in writing and sometimes in conversation, but unfortunately, American law isn't very useful here--I'm learning some Italian law on my own though :)

Anonymous Miss Expatria said...

So, did you freak out when you read my post, because it is shockingly similar to yours? I freaked out reading yours, I can tell you that.

Having finally bought a copy of Eat Pray Love, and having just finished the Italy section, and now having read this post as well as other posts on here, I am now heartbrokenly convinced that I no longer have anything original to say.

After having lived in Italy for so long without having met anyone even remotely like me, I've come across two of you in two days.

I think we have no choice but to get to know each other better - our twin posts have decreed it!

Blogger sognatrice said...

Miss E, I think you're right about having to get to know each other better, but wrong about not having anything original to say...there may be a few of us with similar experiences, but the way we write about them will always have our own flair. I loved your post, as you probably guessed, but I couldn't have written it because I'm not you. I think we're safe ;)

And I loved Eat Pray Love too, and thought, geez, why didn't I write that many, many times ;)

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