Here we are, guys! We have come to the bittersweet end of The Italy Project. And when I say “we” it is because I truly feel you and I have done it together. I intended to offer some parting words on Italia or living abroad, but my thoughts kept drifting to you, dear Reader. Yes, you! You look gorgeous today, by the way.
Initially, I assumed my fan base (if you can even call it that) was small – consisting almost entirely of my mom and Billy. A tiny, albeit fierce, faction intent on encouraging me to write if only to keep from going batshit crazy here in Naples. And so I wrote, sending my digital message-in-a-bottle out into the cyber sea with no intention of ever being heard. Suddenly, lo and behold, there you were! So many of you!
You offered quick dinner recipes when I bemoaned having to cook for my husband. You laughed (and cringed) with me when I made millions of mistakes adjusting to this new life. You asked me for travel advice (hope I helped!). You supported me when I felt displaced and anxious about what lay ahead.
And who are you anyway? My inner circle (obvi). High school friends I haven’t heard from in years. Military wives who found my blog when a friend of a friend shared it. Even some random readers from countries where I don’t know a soul. (Say hey, creepers!!)
Life’s twists and turns are mysterious. In high school we had to select a foreign language and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at the kids who wanted to learn Italian. Oh, your grandmother’s grandmother was Italian? How fascinating. Learning Italian would be pointless – after all, no one speaks Italian outside of Italy. I also distinctly remember dismissing metric conversions in a similar fashion. As fate would have it, a few months ago I found myself in Pepe’s kitchen trying to translate my recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars into Italian…. while reconfiguring the measurements into metric units. I stopped mid-sentence, struck by how wrong my teenage self had been. (This particular episode resulted in me just giving Pepe’s wife a set of U.S. measuring cups. Apparently I still suck at conversions).
I never thought I’d live in Naples – Florence, sure – but Naples? God, no. I never thought I’d be a military wife. Giving up my independent swag to follow some dude around? Inconceivable! I never thought I’d marry Billy. I assumed he had real short-term potential, ifyaknowwhatimean. And yet, here I am. My life has defied so many of my expectations while exceeding my biggest, long-held dreams. I am tremendously grateful for this past year and for your love and support.
Billy and I are about to board our flight. We’re taking the long way back to the States – via Santorini and Switzerland! They say when you come to Napoli you cry twice: once when you arrive and once when you leave. Lord knows, this city brought me to tears more than a few times. But I know a part of me will weep when we go. A dopo, Italia.