February 7th has proven a significant date in my journey to Italy. It was this day two years ago that I boarded a plane in Rome to return to the U.S. after my four-week Italian adventure. I was starting a new job a week after I returned and 2012 seemed like a promising year filled with new beginnings and fresh starts; I truly thought that this trip would be me “getting Italy out of my system” so to speak and that I’d return to the U.S. content and ready to get on with my life. But that didn’t happen…this was the first time in my life that I had ever left Europe hopeful and not depressed; come hell or high water, I would live in Italy, damn it, if it’s the last thing I do. If I hadn’t had been in Italy those very four weeks and stayed in those particular cities in those exact moments, I wouldn’t be here right now. Of that I’m certain.
As the year got underway, most of my energy went into my job but the little that I had left over went into figuring out how to make Italy happen. Finally, I realized that I could only do so much from the U.S.; I needed to physically get there to see if the already partially open doors would allow me to get my foot further inside. I was planning to visit Milan for a long-weekend to attend Identita’ Golose last February, but instead I said screw it; it’s now or never and I can’t wait anymore. I booked myself on a flight out of New York on February 7, 2013, which was pure coincidence that it happened to be the same date as my return from Rome the previous year; it just happened to work out that way but I figured it was still auspicious nevertheless. I arrived in Rome, stayed with a friend for two nights, went to Milan for Identita’ Golose, returned to Rome to move into my sublet, and the rest is history!
So here I am one year later on February 7, 2014; I’m visiting Milan to attend Identita’ Golose during which I’ll get to interview four of Italy’s most talented chefs for a work-related project (more on that some other time). I’m excited, but nervous….I downloaded the iTalk app to record the interviews which calms some of my tension, but yes, I’m still nervous overall! I think it’s the language barrier since I’m still not fluent, which ires me to no end but I’m trying!
I’m kicking off a food-and-wine-filled-weekend by having dinner tonight with two friends with whom I’m collaborating on a project (more on that some other time, too…it’s still too early to talk about, but it’s gonna be awesome!). I feel beyond blessed to have been embraced by remarkable circles of friends in both Rome and Milan, and I am so appreciative of their support. I couldn’t have made it this far without them and I thank them all from the bottom of my heart. Living here is difficult at times because I do miss my family and friends back at home more than I could ever articulate, but if I ever have my doubts about staying here, I look around and I honestly shudder at the thought of not being here, when Italy is “happening”–for lack of a better word. I truly hope I’m well on my way to planting some roots so I can stay here forever!