Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Going home! These words usually caused mixed emotions, especially when they also signal the end of a vacation. Of course for us, the end of vacation doesn’t carry the dread of going back to work; for Art, the end of this vacation actually signals the END of work! How confusing is this?!

Although we’re both ready to be home…in our own space, with our own bed, there are things we leave behind in the states. Things like children and grandchildren. Things like a comfort zone, and confidence. No matter how much we love Italy, life in the United States is the norm for us….for better or worse.

I do love driving without fearing for my life….but that’s not to say that driving in the states in always safe. I love being able to read the paper or watch the news and have a fairly good understanding of the news of the day. I know the background, the history, the mentality. I understand some of the reasons why things happen in the United States…with the major exception being that last presidential election. I love feeling confident that no matter what problems I might encounter, I’ll be able to handle them. I’ll be able to explain my problem, understand the answer, and be able to ask more questions or even argue my point if need be.

Now, after six long weeks, we’re returning to Italy, the place we chose as home. So why am I feeling nervous? Could it be that after six weeks my shaky Italian will be even shakier? I feel as if I’m starting over every time we return to Italy, but this time I have the Pimsleur course to help me, and I’m determined to work a little harder to improve my Italian.

Maybe the problem is that I just don’t know where I fit in Italy. When we lived in the states I had a job, and not just at the Post Office. I was a wife and a mother and a grandmother and a sister and a friend. I loved to read and to travel and to listen to music….the Beatles, U2, Lyle Lovett. I played with photography and cooking and gardening. And here I am in Italy….I’m still a wife and a mother and I still read and listen to music and take pictures. So what’s different?

I think it’s because I feel like what I REALLY am….an outsider.

Maybe I’m just nervous because I’m still finding my way in Italy. Although it’s great not to be chained to a time clock or a schedule, sometimes I feel as if we’re not using our time wisely. Shouldn’t we be studying Italian, reading those books we’ve been meaning to get to and checking out the local history? Shouldn’t we be “working” at enjoying our retirement? Wait a minute… I worrying too much again? Wouldn’t it be okay to just enjoy each day without having to make plans? But what’s the point of being in Italy if we’re not going to see and learn about Italy? Hmmmm……maybe I should start taking the anti-anxiety medication my doctor prescribed.

I had gotten a prescription for an anti-depressant last May. My doctor and I had talked about it, and there seemed to be several pluses to this medication. Unfortunately I had to admit that this medication was a failure in every area and decided to just stop taking it (with my doctor’s approval, of course).

When I saw her a few weeks ago, we started talking about how I felt, and I began to realize that the term “depression” really didn’t describe me. I still enjoy doing the things I’ve always enjoyed, and although I might be insecure, I don’t have low self esteem or feelings of worthlessness. What I really feel is anxiety.

I worry about everything. I like to be in charge….of everything. While we were waiting for my mom’s estate to close, I worried about the credit card bills that were piling up. Now that the estate has closed and I’ve paid off the credit card accounts, I worry that we won’t have enough money to meet our month to month bills. I worry that even if we DO have enough money to pay our bills that we won’t be able to go back to the states in December. I worry that we won’t be able to afford expensive repairs to the house that might be in our future. If we were in the states a phone call could secure us a home equity line, but here in Italy, what will we do?

So the bottom is line….now I’m worrying about worrying! Although I don’t suffer panic attacks, I think I stay in a constant state of panic. I can’t seem to relax and go with the flow. I have to constantly remind myself that it doesn’t matter if we get somewhere five minutes later, or if we wait until another day. I have to force myself to relax! So, thanks to better living through chemistry, I hope this new “anti-anxiety” drug will help me to loosen up a little.

I guess I’m also worried about going back to Italy and not fully enjoying each day. I’m determined not to waste one second. I promise to study my Italian, to lose some weight, to read some books and to enjoy the beauty and simplicity of Italy. Maybe I’m just afraid of being too happy…..but I’m going to give it a try.


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