So it’s official, The Italy Project has been underway for a month now and my time here has been sprinkled with little victories and tiny defeats. Victories include: keeping up in my Italian gym classes despite the glaring language barrier and discovering where I can find my must-have food products. Defeats include: accidentally serving a salad made of cabbage (not lettuce) for dinner and getting a ‘meh’ haircut.
I Lose My Shit
Certainly, the biggest adjustment has been giving up my job. Let’s be real: I wasn’t splitting atoms or curing cancer back in Boston, but at least my days had “purpose,” you know? Billy goes off to work and, aside from my daily workout, I don’t have much to do. In an attempt to seem valuable, I busy myself doing laundry, sorting the trash, and cooking meals. I should note that grocery shopping is practically a scavenger hunt and requires all of my limited Italian, Google Translator, and often times a trip to each of the three small grocers and the specialty food store in our neighborhood (because dammit I need that coconut flour and almond milk). Thanks to our small European fridge and a lack of preservatives in the local food, I do this every.day.
Now, it’s not that Billy expects me to be Housewife of the Year or anything. He’s been feeding himself just fine for years from what I can tell; I just want to contribute in some way. My descent into a swirling evil vortex of restlessness happens almost immediately. I’m being weird. Billy knows I’m being weird. I know he knows I’m being weird and it makes me act even weirder. In addition to that, I feel guilty because he’s done so much to ease my transition here. But that’s the thing about transitions, they can be awkward and uncomfortable. Dear Reader, I could regale you with tales of Italian shores (and I’m about to), but I feel like I owe you more than just the fluffy stuff. There are worse places to be than Italy, but it is still a new place and it takes some time to get into a groove.
I Get It Together – But Not On My Own!
Okay, here comes the part where I get over myself…. Not soon after I moved to Italy, Billy and I met Brad and Erin, an American couple who live on the floor beneath us. Erin and I make plans to do lunch and, as with all new acquaintances, I’m excited but also ambivalent. She lives right downstairs – what if she’s a Stage 5 Clinger? What if she wants to hang out 24/7 and talk about her feelings over “stories” in my living room every afternoon? What if I tell her I’m not around today but she sees my car in the lot? Getting involved with people is a risky business! Lucky for me, Erin does none of these things. Funny, super confident, and incredibly welcoming, we take on the days’ challenges together starting with yoga and the grocery circuit.
Earlier this week, Erin and I joined a couple of other ladies on a day trip to the island of Ischia. The ferry departs from the port in Pozzuoli and is a scenic 45 minute ride. We spend the day at Negombo, a resort with thermal pools and a beach. We chat (as ladies do) as we hop from pool to pool. I’m relieved when these women validate my recent bizarro behavior. All of us have taken a hiatus from our careers in order to join our husbands abroad. Do they go crazy too? They do. Does the hard Napoli water make their skin feel weird? It does. Are they seeing the effects of the Italians’ all-carb diet on their bodies? They sure are. Are they longing for their hairdressers back home? Omg, YES!
Armed with a new sense of solidarity, I feel more at ease. At one point, after a bit of collective bemoaning, Ann says, “We live in Italy!” We all smile and think about it for a moment. Here we are, in the prime of our lives, exploring Europe with our handsome husbands and forging relationships with other cool women. Not to mention, we’re at a beach resort on a Tuesday! Still, I’m looking forward to my intensive language classes next month – I’ve always been more nerdy than domestic. 🙂