Making a Home:
Hello dear readers. It’s been a long while since I have shared my thoughts with you. Thank goodness Larry is still feeling inspired to write and keeping the blog going. I really can’t say why I lost my writing mojo other than we have a very active life here now and writing takes a lot of time and mind space – both of which are in less supply these days.
My weeks are now filled with Pilates classes, a Stitch & Bitch group, Italian lessons from my ever-patient teacher and friend, plus Larry and I are in our 5th week of a 9-session cooking class with a chef. We have also joined a group called Universitá della Terza Etá (University of the Third Age) that hosts very high-quality lectures on art, history and architecture, trips within Italy with qualified experts, and all manner of classes in the arts and crafts for mature adults (through which we are taking our cooking classes). As with most things here in Ascoli the costs are amazingly low as this is a non-profit enterprise, possibly subsidized. For example, we are paying the same for our nine four-hour-each cooking classes, taught by a local chef, as I paid for one four-hour cooking class through the Culinary Institute in San Diego – and we get to eat what we cook..
The addition of some more American expats has really enriched our lives as well. They are all very interesting people and we have much in common – i.e. we love Italy, specifically Ascoli, are curious, independent and crazy enough to pull up roots and live in a foreign country. We love and enjoy our Italian friends but communication with those who do not speak any English (fortunately many speak or understand some English) remains a challenge for me but Larry’s Italian is progressing rapidly. Mom always hinted that I could be a bit lazy and stubborn, and the truth is, with the English speakers it is just easier. “Total immersion language learning” is not as automatic as we are lead to believe, especially since every Italian community has their own dialect. I can write Italian, am pretty good at reading, and am proficient enough in speaking to pretty much be able to say what I want but the problem is, between the dialect, speed of conversation, general noise level (with stone everywhere) and my impaired hearing – I have a great deal of difficulty understanding what other people are saying. However, I am determined to carry on with my language studies at my own pace. My Italian teacher, Serafino, complains that I am lazy in my study habits – proof that some things never change and your mother is always right. But, as I mentioned in an earlier post, there are many ways to communicate other than language and I still feel very comfortable here. Larry acts like he was born here yet I’m the one with the Italian roots!
In light of all the things stated above, Larry and I have decided to stay here in Ascoli for the foreseeable future. Contemplating the accumulated lost time with loved ones and the family milestones and events we will miss is painful to us. But, ultimately, we are responsible for filling all the hours, days, weeks, and months between those precious moments and for us that time is better spent here. No one can predict what the future holds so we will not say that we will never return to the USA to live and we still think San Diego is a paradise. But what we are certain of now is that our life here is richer, more social, less stressful, more stimulating, healthier (fresh foods and we walk everywhere), plus we have better healthcare at a time when that will only become increasingly important.
When we left San Diego for a city we had barely heard of in a part of Italy we had never visited without a clear vision of our future, we put our “life” and remaining belongings in a 10’x15’ storage unit. While the initial freedom of divesting ourselves of all that “stuff” felt quite liberating, hardly a week has gone by that I have not wished aloud for some item or another after which I lament about all the money we were spending to store things we cannot enjoy. On our last visit to San Diego we brought back to Italy the “Our House” woodcut print with a quote from Samuel Clemons that some of you may remember and a beautiful ceramic Madonna and Child from my Mom’s house that once hung over my crib. When I look at them they give me such a warm feeling of connection to our past and, after three years here, I want, I need, “more” of this. Does this mean I’m still a material girl?
To satisfy my need for “more” we are planning to return to the USA next month with the goals of first spending some quality time with our family; and second to do a final sort of the contents of our storage unit, dispose of what we cannot use in Italy and ship the remainder by sea to Ascoli. This will be a time-consuming, complicated and expensive process but at least the investment will allow us to use and enjoy those items that have meaning to us instead of lining the pockets of the storage facility owner while our possessions slowly deteriorate. Our third goal is to visit with friends, if possible, and enjoy a bit of paradise while in San Diego. After stops in New York and Florida to visit with family, we should arrive in San Diego in late June and depart in early August. With luck our shipment will be delivered, in tact and in good condition, to Ascoli eight or nine weeks later and we can continue to make our lovely apartment into our Italian home.