We are 3 days away from the beginning of our epic journey of 6 weeks in the States with minimal luggage and a cat, ultimately ending in Tashkent in August. As you can imagine, this makes it difficult for me to write anything cohesively about bella Italia and la dolce vita, so I thought that I would instead write about something that we all must do eventually in every walk of life: say goodbye. We say goodbye not just to this beautiful country that’s been home, but also acknowledge the wonderful lifestyle that we’ve had here and know that we are blessed by it. We say goodbye to many friends, neighbors, and acquaintances with joy and laughter through tears.
This being my first international move where the house has been moved for us, it’s also the first time that I’ve essentially “moved out” twice. We moved out of our house last week, but then into an apartment for 10 days. So for the next couple of days, we’re going to go back to the packing grind amidst leaving checklist to-do items. I have to say, I’m sick enough of the period of moving limbo that I’m actually ready to leave even though Italy is my favorite place in the world!
We’ve come to the time in our adventure where final dinners and wine tastings are happening with different groups of people: our beloved neighbors, our church community, my Progetto Voce pals, and all friends that we know and love that don’t fit into specific groups. The final week of goodbyes can become exhausting with speeches and tears! I’ve learned a few things along the way this time, so I wanted to share them with you. Of course, these are my personal findings so if you’re also in the middle of an international move, you may have different coping mechanisms, and of course that’s not only fine, it’s expected!
Tears are inevitable
Being a hopeless romantic who wears her heart on her sleeve, it is inevitable that a few tears will be shed in the transition process. Moving is always difficult because you’re displacing yourself for a little while. Emotions can run high and tension can build when you least expect it. Tears are normal in this life.
We had our first official “last supper” event with our neighbors on 6 June. That was followed by our last outing with the church group on 7 June. This was then followed by a last hoorah with the amazing Progetto Voce crowd on 14 June. Interspersed between these 3 events were final meetings with countless friends one-on-one. Yes, the business of saying goodbye to people is actually quite a busy and hectic one!
In my early days as an expat, I used to have a cathartic cry during every farewell event. By the time I got back to the States, I was so exhausted that I usually cried upon seeing my family, then passed out and slept for hours. I no longer have the energy for multiple cathartic cries! I came very close to doing so when we met with our neighbors and Drew gave a speech, and when my voice teacher Chiara gave me a speech, but instead I shed several ladylike tears and saved the waterworks for later. Tomorrow is the Sagra in Pianezze and it is the last time that we will see our neighbors, as well as our last night in Italy. That’s the moment for a cathartic cry, so I’ve saved my tears up and I’m not necessarily planning on it, but if it happens, at least it’s the last farewell event and a cathartic cry is completely justifiable!
Remember the good, let go of the bad
Leaving a place can bring up lots of memories, even potentially poisonous bitter ones. “Why wasn’t I chosen for that promotion instead of him?” “Why did they professionally blaspheme me for no apparent reason, undermining me as a person?” “Man I can’t believe I caused both of our cars to need so much work done, I’m such a terrible driver!” “Why isn’t the office/store/place of business that I need to go to ever open when I need to conduct my business there?” These are thoughts best left behind. If they do happen to surface as you leave, scatter them across whatever ocean you’re flying over and leave them buried at sea forever!
The times that we spent here in Italy were made up of so many positive, delightful, amazing surprises, that I choose to remember and dwell upon those experiences, and not the negative ones. I actually laugh now as I pass our neighborhood pharmacy, which is closed more than it is open. I’m certainly not suggesting that you whitewash your time anywhere. Maybe you have valid reasons for leaving a place and there is more bad then good going on there. If you don’t make peace with the bad and let it go, however, it will poison you in your new destination, potentially even making it impossible to remember what good was there.
Plan to return or to connect
Plans to return help infinitely. Italy is our favorite country; Drew lived here 6 years, I lived here 2. The only way we can look our move square in the face and accept it is by telling ourselves (and our friends) that we’re coming back. Obviously, we’re lucky because we’re living in Italy and it’s an easy place to get back to! What if you live somewhere more remote and it’s just not feasible? Travel plans to meet friends halfway can help you connect your old life to your new, which is why we’re hoping to see Mike in 2016!
Saying goodbye is exhilarating, painful, and difficult. Giving ourselves proper closure by celebrating the life and friends we’ve had here is the best way we can think to graciously celebrate Italy and prepare for our new chapter in life.
Italia, ciao! Ci vediamo.