It is two years to the day since I spent a beautiful, sunny morning on the porch of a farm house on the Greek Island Lipsi. I had a hearty breakfast, sipped my coffee slowly and spent hours breathing deeply, looking out over the vineyards, fig trees and white church roofs, towards the looming hill in the distance: a place legendary for being the home of Calypso and the castle where she kept Odysseus hostage for 7 years.
I was incredibly peaceful, hopeful.
It had been nearly two months since I started my solo backpacking trip across Europe, and I had done a lot of work to weed out and process a lot of things which had been bogging my mind down for some time. I had truly hit my stride. I was centered, focused and happy in so many ways. I had confidence in myself as a woman and my dreams as achievable. For the first time, I felt I could truly articulate what I wanted in my life, and as such, I had a newfound clarity in what I needed in a life partner. I meditated on this. Let the things I knew and understood soak into my core. Believed so deeply that I would find who I was meant to find when the time was right. And for the first time in my life, I had overwhelming patience, reverence for the journey, and certainty that he would show up eventually. No sooner than I needed him to.
This trip was most certainly not about love, I had decided long before.
It was my day off from working out on the farm, so I proceeded to pack up my towel and Kindle, and walked across the island to Platis Galios beach, and happened to sit down next to the love of my life.
Two years to the day later, I’m sitting in the living room of our new home, listening to the voices of Italians rushing just outside the window. I am continually surprised by which things catch me off guard when it comes to the move, and the proximity of our windows to the street is one of those things. I mean, I’ve lived in BIG cities before, it’s not like I need exorbitant amounts of privacy. But people’s faces just below the window sill, with no grass to speak up separating us from the sidewalk are still a little jarring. Not to mention every time I go to look out the window, I meet the eyes of about 12 old Italian ladies who are looking out their own windows in the surrounding apartments, which makes me quickly retreat. I am not ready, somehow, to stand among their numbers. Partly because let me tell you – eye contact really happens in Italy, in a way that is pretty jarring to me and my Midwestern lookawayquickly habits.
I’ve been here a week. I’ve walked around Legnano, I’ve walked around Milan. I’ve done some nesting, but am anxious to actually hang the art and maps on the walls. I’ve adapted to the time zone. I’ve established that I can, in fact, find the ingredients to cook some of my favorite dishes here. I’ve swam in Alpine lakes with the boyfriend’s friends at a birthday party. I’ve “settled in”, as people keep inquiring, pretty quickly and adequately. It’s kind of a specialty of mine after so many moves.
Physically being somewhere, and mentally feeling at home, are obviously two different things, though. And I ache for routine. In fact, I’ve ached for routine for the last year and a half. Waitressing at two different restaurants for seven months certainly filled my savings account, but all of the last minute “Hey, do you think you can open tomorrow,” texts, and having to choose between making up to $800 in a crazy, double shift studded weekend or spending time with friends took it’s toll on me. Plus, I’m almost scared to admit it, but 27 doesn’t feel as young as I thought it would at 17, and those profound Monday morning aches in the soles of my feet after three 12-14 hours days? Brutal.
I have found myself needing to gently remind myself that no matter what, I’ve only been here a week. And next week I start Italian classes, which will give me at least some of that routine. I know logically that no matter what, no matter where one moves, it’s always a little awkward and strange to get barrings and find meaning. The waking hours of a day can feel unreasonably long in the right circumstances, and having no actual purpose, persay, but my own goals and images of life here over the next 5 months, exacerbates this.
Perhaps what’s hardest is that I’ve been holding out for this moment for SO long. A year only seems long when you stand at the front end, I kept telling myself. It is a long time to build towards something, though. And when you’ve held out that long for some version of a Big Thing, the Thing actually arriving and not being immediately transcendent can be a let down, no matter how many times you remind yourself in the lead up that these things take time. I know this. I’ve moved before. Not to mention this move is bigger and badder than any in the past.
And it is utterly worth it. The awkwardness, the spaces I’m growing into, the challenge of language learning is nothing compared to the ease with which the central part of this move, my relationship and our shared life, wraps me up and brings me certainty in the meaning of this. It is OK – even necessary – to face challenges, even in the most beautiful story. These things do not discount the truth of the incredible journey we are on and the heart of this move or the “rightness” of my path.
At some moments, it doesn’t seem like much has happened in the last two years, or like the real journey is only just beginning. Then the other part of me, the woman who sat centered and focused in Greece and called forth exactly what she wanted most, steps up and reminds me of all we’ve created, all the work I’ve done and the fact that this journey has chosen me – both of these truths at once. It is both the most incredible and the most natural place in the world to be in today, this Italian apartment.