Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I grew up in Italy

Every morning I post a quotation about "being happy" as my facebook status on my Happy Girl page --->  Btw, if you click the Like button you can like my fan page and see my daily quote.

This morning I posted this quote by Bertrand Russell; "Italy, and the spring and first love all together should suffice to make the gloomiest person happy."  This quote brought my thoughts back to living in Italy.  I was so happy there.

I moved to Italy in April of 1984.  I had been married for 20 months.  My husband had been out to sea for 10 of those 20 months.  Before I married my husband, I lived with my parents.  I didn't go away to college.  I did go to college and I graduated, but I lived at home, with my parents, while I attended college.  I moved out and was on my own for three years after I graduated, but I lived close to my parents and visited often.  Now you have the Reader's Digest condensed version of my life before I moved to Italy.

Moving to Italy was the most exciting thing I had ever done in my life.  I was so excited.  I had traveled to Europe at other times, but I'd never LIVED outside of the US and I'd mostly spent my life, thus far, in Illinois.  I had not lived a very exciting life.  But all that was going to change.  I was going to live in Italy.

Let me tell you, Bertrand Russell is correct, Italy can make the gloomiest person happy.  I lived in Naples, Italy.  As far a places to live in Italy, Naples is not considered the choicest of cities.  Too bad for those that think this way.  I loved it.  The first night I spent on Italian soil gave me the experience of 30 to 40 tremors (little earthquakes).  I spent most of the night sitting on the curb outside my hotel room, in my pajamas, with the other new arrivals.  Welcome to Italy.  I didn't care.  I loved it.

My husband had to go to work immediately upon arrival, so finding an apartment fell to me.  I didn't have a job, I didn't speak or read the language, but I had time.  I couldn't wait.  I found a friend (we weren't friends yet, but we came to be life-long friends) to take me around and show me the different areas of the city.  After a couple weeks of looking and learning the lay of the land I found an apartment.  I negotiated the rent, in Italian, and signed the lease, written in Italian, and paid in Lire (this was prior to the EU).  Our apartment was in Arco Felice near Pozzuoli.  I loved it.  I Google Earthed our old apartment.  It's still there, but the area around it looks quite different.

This was just the beginning of my life in Italy.  I woke up happy every day I was there.  Every day there was the adventure of communicating with people.  Every day there was the adventure of discovering a new place to visit.  I immersed myself in the culture.  I shopped in the markets.  I used public transportation.  I visited the coffee shop every morning and practiced my language.  I loved it.

I grew into the person I am today because I lived in Italy at this very formative time of my life.  I had no contact with my parents or old friends.  There was no phone in my apartment.  Al Gore had not invented the internet yet.  Steve Jobs was still building computers in his garage.  I had to get out there and just Do It.  I had to be brave and overcome my shyness and PARTICIPATE in life.  I learned I could make mistakes and be ok.  I could make incredibly embarrassing mistakes in language and customs and not die of embarrassment.  (remind me to tell you about ordering a plate of policemen for dinner, some time)  I was 27 years old and I was making decisions and choices in my life without having to get confirmation from a parent or a friend or ANYONE.  My husband was working very hard at a challenging time for our country and needed to be able to trust me to take care of our home and take care of myself.  He didn't have time to coddle me and I didn't wish he didn't have to go to work, EVER, because it was his job that was providing this wonderful opportunity.

I agree with Bertrand Russell, if you can't be happy when you are in Italy, then there is just no way to make you happy.  Because even the gloomiest of people should be able to find la dolce vita in Italy.  If you find yourself feeling gloomy, grab your first love and rush to Italy in May.  You will find the happiness you seek.  





13 comments:

  1. Golly - that must have been wonderful.  It sounds wonderful.  When I think of myself at that age, I can't imagine being on my own in a foreign country, but it sounds as if you did great.  Will you go back to visit sometime? 

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  2. sounds like a wonderful place!

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  3. What an amazing experience!  I would love to at least be able to visit Italy.

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  4. Beautiful...its funny, I lived most of my life in PA near my parents and siblings, in 1999 we (my husband and our two little girls) moved to NH. I think it is safe to say that moving away, up here has been my time of growing-up. So I grew up in NH:-)

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  5. Tara_pohlkottepressJanuary 11, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    ooh this sounds so magical...perhaps a movie should be made??? :) Love it!

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  6. That's so great that you were able to do that when you were young. It sounds like such a great opportunity to discover who you are among friendly strangers in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Thanks for giving us a taste of your young life in Italy. It made me happy! :)

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  7. I grew up hearing stories about my grandfather growing up in Italy. My dad's dad was Italian and the stories were magical. We went to Italy when my 10 yo was just 4. We were there for 3 or 4 weeks. It was LOVELY! I want to go back. I want to live there for a few years. Maybe we'll do it, we don't know, yet. What a great experience you had!

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  8. oooh i love italy... i went there for a writer's conference and its romance wooed me. i'd go back in a heartbeat.

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  9. Italy is my dream destination.  You make me want to go there even more now.  maybe one day...

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  10. Wonderful post. And I love Russell's quote. I have to confess that I've been to Italy 3 times in the past decade and here's the happy secret -- I am more myself in Italy than I have ever been, anywhere. Ever. By the way, do you happen to need a maid, gardener, cook or girl friday-saturday-or-sunday when you're there?

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  11. You are officially my hero.  My dream, you have done!  ;)

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  12. Italy is at the top of my list of places to visit... soon.

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