Wednesday, June 30, 2004


I decided to move things around a bit, and put these two posts together.

JUNE 29, 2004

For now we’ve just been enjoying our house and our garden. We read, study, watch a little TV, bake bread, water the plants, wash the car. Compared to our other American friends, our life seems to be pretty boring. Our friends in Paciano have had many, many guests. We haven’t had any guests yet, and only one planned guest so far…and she is someone we’ve never met before…the sister of a good friend. We’re not sure why we haven’t had any guests. Are our friends uninterested in Italy, or just uninterested in us? Do they not have the time? The money?

Another couple from Seattle seems to know half of Umbria, and they’ve only been here since April! Should we be doing more? Going more places? Making more friends? We seem to be happy by our standards, but I feel as if we’re somehow not taking advantage of the opportunities.

Because of our weird work schedules, I guess we’ve always been somewhat isolated from our friends and from the “normal” activities. We always went to the movies during the day, because that’s the only time we could go. We usually ate out on Monday night, not on the weekends, because that’s the only time we could go. We never went out on weekends...Art was always working. So, we’ve always relied on each other, and during our first months in Italy, that was a good thing. Now that we’re more settled, I’m wondering if we’re just content with our life, or if we’re just so used to being isolated that we’re missing out on something.

One of our friends has started to get serious about her photography, and has several shows scheduled. This same friend is also taking art classes, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she has a show of her artwork in the near future. Another friend is starting a business to help Americans who are moving to Italy. Yet another teaches English to Italians. Oh, and then there’s the one who paints ceramics. So I’m starting to feel well...what’s the right word? Unproductive? Useless? Lazy? Jealous? Disappointed? Hmmm...

Then I realize…this is like “keeping up with the Jones’s”. This is what I supposedly left behind, not only when I moved to Italy, but also when I quit work…this is what we all dream about…of one day having NOTHING to do!!! NO responsibilities! NO deadlines! NO schedules! So here I am with nothing to do, no responsibilities, no deadlines and no schedules...

I guess being “retired” is as much a state of mind as it is a physical state. My competitive nature doesn’t seem to be able to retire with the rest of me! Or maybe it’s just my inability to be comfortable with myself, without worrying about what OTHER people think, or what OTHER people are doing. I’m going to work on this...although saying that you’re going to “work” at relaxing seems a bit contradictory, doesn’t it?!

Maybe by the time I finish reading all the books I’ve brought with me, I’ll be tired of being a bum, and ready to embark on some new venture. For now, I’m going to try to go with the flow, and see what happens. Maybe I’m expecting too much of myself…of my life. Maybe I should stop asking “is that all there is?” and start saying “I can’t believe I have all of this!”

Maybe I’m just feeling some of that leftover Catholic guilt about doing nothing! It’s sort of like growing up and thinking “I’ll NEVER say the things that my mom said”, and before you know it, you ARE saying those same stupid things! And then questioning your sanity as you talk to yourself and say “damn! I SWORE I’d never say that!” Isn’t it amazing how many of our thoughts and habits are so deeply ingrained and so deeply imbedded that we don’t even realize it?

PART 2 JUNE 30, 2004

While I was typing the previous post, pondering the meaning of life, or maybe just the meaning of retirement, Art was reading the latest newsletter from another ex-pat couple. I had printed out the email so that Art could read about the art classes, the photography exhibit, the latest guests, and the most recent activities. When he had finished reading, he looked at me and said, simply, “I don’t want to be as busy as they are.” There was no doubt or hesitation in his voice as he said this. No anger or jealousy, or guilt. Just the knowledge that HE was doing what HE wanted to do. The knowledge AND the self confidence.

As usual, I’m too busy thinking and analyzing everything to death! I need to practice being more patient, more relaxed, and more….I don’t know, maybe more ENTITLED. Yes it’s true that I didn’t work two jobs for over thirty years like Art did, but as an equal partner in this marriage, I certainly made my share of sacrifices, and I take much of the credit for our ability to make this happen financially. We’ve worked hard, and we’ve earned this retirement, and whatever that means for us. If it means taking a nap on the couch (like Art is right now!), or playing on the computer, (like I am right now), then so be it. Gosh, I think I’ll go get a nice cold glass of iced tea, then maybe wander out to the garden to read for a while. Hope you’re not working too hard!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home