Wednesday, October 26, 2005


It’s hard to believe that we’ve been living in Italy for two years now. That we’ve been retired for two years. That we’ve been so far away from friends and family for two years. As I was thinking about our visit to the states coming up next month I started to think about what these last two years have meant to us…how we’ve changed and adapted, how many things have turned out differently than we’d expected. Is the honeymoon over?

Someone asked if we were excited about returning to the states, and of course the answer was a resounding “Yes!” I’m always happy to see my kids and grandkids, to connect with old friends, catch up on movies, re-stock my supply of American goodies and enjoy driving without fear.

Last May we were in the states for six weeks and we found out that six weeks is a LONG time to be away from home….and because Italy is now our home, we are in the strange position of being on the outside looking in, in many respects when we’re in the states. We’re living in someone else’s home, driving someone else’s car, adjusting our lives to fit someone else’s schedule. It’s very strange.

Because we’re not able to travel around Italy and Europe as we had hoped, I wondered briefly what it would be like to be retired and living in the states right now. Art would probably still be working at the track, simply because he enjoys it so much, but in fact we’d probably need the income. For him working one job would be like taking a vacation, especially after working two jobs for over thirty years.

And what about me? What would I do if I were retired and living in the states? Would I want a part-time job to fill my time and/or my purse? What I think I’d really like to do is go back to school, but I don’t think that would be financially possible…unless they give grants to grannies.

The problem with being retired when none of your friends are retired means that you still have to work around a work schedule….theirs, not yours, but suddenly that freedom that sounded so appealing seems to have disappeared.

Another disadvantage of being retired and living in the states would be that we would find it nearly impossible to visit Italy, or do any sort of traveling. Being able to stay with friends and family is what enables us to visit the states…that and the fact that Art can work at the track. If we wanted to go to Italy, we’d have to pay for our lodging, transportation, and all the other expenses related with a vacation. What fun would that be?

So I guess it seems that we have the best of both worlds….we get to live in Italy, yet still have the ability to visit the states on a regular basis. True, our life in Italy isn’t as we had imagined it, but what in life really works out as expected? And true, we have to rely on the generosity of others while we’re in the states, but that’s a small price to pay in order to stay connected.

I think it’s safe to say that we both still love our life here. We love the beauty of the countryside and still marvel at the views. We love the food, the wine, and the friends we’ve made. We love our house, our town, and our neighbors. We love seeing Assisi climbing up Mt. Subasio on a clear day….ASSISI!!!! Amazing! We love the terra cotta roofs, the stone walls and the fields of hay and sunflowers and corn. We love the silvery olive groves that dot the hillsides and the endless rows of grapevines.

And yes, there are things that we don’t care for, like the dangerous driving conditions and the weakness of the dollar. We still feel limited by the afternoon closings, because in many respects we still want to visit places just like a “tourist” and the limited hours often mean that we lose valuable time. I’d love to have a forced air furnace in the winter instead of radiators, but that’s a problem I could face in the states too.

I think it’s also safe to say that we’re both a bit embarrassed that our Italian is still so basic. We are taking steps to improve, and have promised ourselves that we WILL persevere. Studiamo ogni giorno!

So….would we do it all over again? Are we happy with our life in Italy? Will we stay? Yes. Yes. And yes. Simple as that.

What the future brings no one knows. For now we’re here and we’re happy. Maybe we’ll be here until we die, maybe we’ll move back to the states next year. Life presented us with a new twist when Italy beckoned, and now we know that it’s best not to make too many plans. We’re happy we’ve made it this far, and know that without a doubt, “the best is yet to be”.

Post Script: I told Art what I had written and we talked about what we would be doing if we were still in the states. We agreed that there is just no way we could afford to be retired in the U.S. Maybe we’re just too weak, too easily influenced, or too shallow, but we agreed that being constantly bombarded with radio, TV, newspaper and magazine ads for all the stuff we supposedly need would create a huge drain on our bank account.

Living in Italy has forced us to live more simply, and even if that’s just because I don’t get the weekly Target ad, or because I don’t have shops within minutes of my house, the end result is the same….we don’t buy nearly as much “stuff”, and we seem to get along just fine. In the states there would always be something I wanted…. or needed. But most importantly, we wouldn’t be here!


At 10/27/2005 02:29:00 AM , Blogger Cynthia Rae said...

Well written Barb. It is funny how fast time flies. Just one year ago, I was packing up my home to move to Italy. I can not believe I am almost through my first year!

Have a safe trip back to the States and return home soon.

At 10/27/2005 09:41:00 AM , Blogger Judith in Umbria said...

Add to the paucity of flyers and catalogs (I am not afraid of the mail anymore!) the fact that there are no closets.

At 10/30/2005 02:41:00 PM , Blogger ~Sparrow said...

Just wanted to raise my glass in toast as well. One of these days we really should arrange a meet-up in Rome or in Umbria.


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