Monday, December 13, 2004


I started to title this piece “Things I Miss”, but then I decided that it sounded too negative…imagine that....ME not wanting to sound too negative!
I guess all our recent concerns about the state of the euro, combined with our disappointment over the election have led to some pretty whiney and/or bitchy posts lately.

Although sometimes it’s good to just vent, it’s difficult to know how my writing is being interpreted by others, and even how this will sound to me when I read it again in twenty years. I might read it and thing “Wow! I must have been miserable!”, but that’s really not the case. For now we remain certain that we made the right decision to move, but still apprehensive about the weakness of the dollar. We THINK we have enough money to live on each month, which is good, but we also know that we’ve lost all our discretionary money...the money to enjoy a dinner in a restaurant, or the money to go to Venice for a few days, or the money to put aside for a trip to the states.

That having been said, here is my list of things I’m looking forward to in the states:

I’m looking forward to reading the newspaper, ESPECIALLY the Sunday newspaper. We used to get both the local paper and the Sunday edition of the New York Times. What a wonderful way to spend a lazy Sunday morning! I can’t wait to read all the ads in the Sunday paper! The fliers from Target and Kmart and Kohl’s…the coupons too….and the real estate ads!!!

I suppose it’s too much to hope for that they’ll be any Sunday Open Houses during January, but there’s nothing I’d like more than to spend a Sunday afternoon looking at houses. Maybe I’m nosy, or just curious, but I could go to open houses every single Sunday of the year and never get tired of it. I love seeing what other people have done to their houses….sometimes I’m horrified, sometimes I’m amused, sometimes I’m VERY impressed, and sometimes I even get ideas that I can use in my house. If there are any open houses in January, you can bet I’ll be there.

I’m looking forward to coupons and rebates and sales. Coupons are nonexistent in Italy and although the grocery store will have different things on sale each week, I never know what they are until I look at the flier once we get there.

I’m looking forward to the incredible selection and the proximity of stores in the states. It’s easy to run into WalMart, then Kmart, then Target, looking for just the right thing you want at just the right price. In Italy, it seems as if all the stores are so far apart, so comparison shopping is harder to do…remember, the cost of gas is a LOT higher here than it is in the states!

I’m looking forward to ethnic restaurants. A nice Oriental buffet or a burrito would be nice once in a while. I’m looking forward to a LARGE fountain diet Coke….I don’t think I passed up one drive-thru when we were in the states…each one presented the opportunity to have a huge diet Coke FILLED with ice!

I’m looking forward to being online any time I want. Right now I’m limited to the hours from 9 am until 6 pm for the flat-rate service we have. Of course I can log on at other times for an additional cost, but I try not to do that. The problem is that at 6 pm my time, it’s only noon in the Eastern time zone. I used to be able to email back and forth with my sister or daughter in real time, and that was nice. Now I have to catch them before noon or not at all.

I’m looking forward to visiting with my girlfriends. Even though my schedule prevented me from doing a lot of socializing, I could still call Sherry or Beth, or maybe Donna from work, just to chat. Or I could have lunch with my sister, or my daughter. Art might be many things to me, but he’ll never take the place of a girlfriend. There are just things that other women know…things men will never understand. When you talk to a girlfriend, there are things you can say, and things that are instantly understood. I do have women friends here…Wendy, and Jill, Cristina, Judith, Shae…but of course it’s not the same. We don’t have any history, and usually when I see them I’m with Art, so the conversation tends to be about our lives in Italy, not just girly chitchat.

I’m looking forward to driving. Not that I necessarily want to drive in Italy, but I miss it as a concept, sort of like a teenager who views their license to drive as a license to freedom.

I’m looking forward to being on the road with American drivers, who for the most part, obey the traffic signs and the speed limits. I’m looking forward to traffic lights, just for the order they impose. I’m looking forward to having the car behind us more than 10 inches away from the bumper, and cars that know the center line is to DIVIDE the lanes, not serve as a driving guide. Italians seem to think that their cars have some sort of tracking device that must be aligned with the white center line…the idea of staying in your own lane is simply unheard of. Who’d a thought I was such a stickler for law and order?!

I’m looking forward to being able to buy brown sugar and oatmeal and baking powder. To being able to have cranberry sauce and peanut butter and cuts of meat that I‘m familiar with. I’m looking forward to having canned soups, ramen noodles, sour cream, CHEDDAR CHEESE and sweet potatoes. I’m looking forward to just knowing what every item in the grocery store is, or if not, to being able to read and understand the packaging so that I can figure it out for myself.

I’m looking forward to having a huge salad with some sort of creamy dressing….and some pork barbeque… ribs….a chargrilled hamburger….a strawberry daiquiri! Oh, and some bratwurst, and pickles...sweet pickles, dill pickles, bread and butter pickles.

I’m looking forward to buying books. To be able to walk into a large bookstore and look at EVERYTHING. I’m looking forward to reading trashy magazines like People, and to catching up on the movies I’ve missed. I can’t wait to fast forward to the current seasons of the shows we’ve started to watch in Italy…shows that are from the first or second season, and are now several years old.

I’m looking forward to listening to the radio…to hearing my oldies. The fact that I don’t understand the songs played on the radio here isn’t the problem. The problem is that most of the stuff they play is just too disco-y, and not to my taste.

I can’t wait to see my kids, and especially my grandchildren. I’m so grateful that we had Nicholas so close to us for the first ten years of his life. I know that we have a bond that will never be broken. Since the other grandchildren will never live in Louisville, the fact that we live in Italy doesn’t have as great an impact, but since they’re so little, I can’t wait to see how much they’ve grown since May! And of course we haven’t even met Maeve yet…she was born in July, and will be six months old when we visit…old enough to have some personality and charm, and Siobhan is three going on thirty, so I’m sure we’ll learn lots from her while we’re there.

Let’s see...what else? This list has been a little difficult to compile, mainly because it’s the little things we miss. Things that we’re so familiar with that we just take them for granted. Things like being able to understand the language with all its nuances. Being able to make yourself understood…even on the telephone. Being able to ask a question about a bill, or understand why our city is mentioned in the paper. Being able to jump in the car and get to almost anywhere I want to go in less than fifteen minutes, or just knowing that my daughter is just a few miles away, and that we can get together for lunch.

I hope this doesn’t give the impression that I don’t like my life in Italy. On the contrary...I love it! If I were still living in the states, I would be moaning about the things I miss about Italy. Having the ability to enjoy the things about Italy that I love, and then to enjoy the things about America that I love is truly the best of both worlds. Once I have that big salad or burrito, or that juicy hamburger, I’ll be satisfied until the next visit. There is nothing that I crave, nothing that I miss desperately. Living in Italy has taught me to appreciate the things about America that most of us take for granted.

The lifestyle in Italy is so much more laidback, although I have to admit that I’m still adjusting to that. Even though I’m still a type “A” personality, the fact that Italy has such a relaxed way of living certainly helps me learn to relax as well. Knowing that we never have to be anywhere at anytime is still a concept we’re both adjusting to.

I love being able to hop on the train and be in Florence or Rome in two hours. I love driving past the vineyards and olive groves and fields of sunflowers and hay. I love seeing Assisi all lit up against the hillside of Mount Subasio. I love the incredible intensity of gelato. I love the stone buildings, the beamed ceilings, the terra cotta tile roofs. I love the outdoors markets with their fresh fruits and vegetables. I love the way the air smells, especially in the spring. When we first moved here, everyone said “Wait until spring…you won’t believe how wonderful it smells!”, and they were right. I love the friendliness of the people and their willingness to help us and to befriend us.

But I guess the thing I love most about Italy is something that can’t be described or explained…I love the feeling of contentedness…the feeling that this is just SO right…the feeling that THIS is where I belong.


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