Today, I fly back to the US for the winter months. I'm going to spend time with my kids, my family and my many friends in southern California. The thought of leaving Italy makes me sad. I have found a peace and joy here that I have never experienced before.
Don't get me wrong, my 3 children are a blessing, as well as my 2 beautiful step kids. But after my husband passed, I was in so much pain, every day was a challenge to get through. I questioned God and why he would take my husband away after only 8 months of marriage. It was a cruel joke and none of it made sense to me.
I came to Italy a bit broken. Granted it was a bold move to buy a home in a foreign country when I didn't know a soul here. I was not thinking clearly obviously. Most people would spend time in a place, perhaps rent for awhile, before they buy. But no, I jumped in without a plan. I was hoping it would all work out. Because seriously, I'd suffered enough pain, it was time for me to catch a break.
So, I landed in Cortona, with a dog and soon... another dog. My companions in a foreign country. I wanted to fit in and be a local. When I walked my dogs in the piazza, I spoke to them in Italian, "Vi!-Viene qui!"
I didn't want anyone to think I was a foreigner. But the dogs had no idea what I was saying and the locals knew I wasn't one of them.
Before long, I met expats, many expats... Aussies, Brits,Canadians, Israelis, Belgians and Americans. They welcomed me into their tribe. And the cool thing was, there were many Cortonese in the tribe too. We were one big multi cultural tribe that drank incredible local wine, overdosed on cinghiale and visited every Sagra possible in a 30 km radius. We harvested olives, celebrated birthdays, welcomed babies and mourned relatives. We disagreed over Amanda Knox, the election in the US and Brexit. We talked about recent places we visited and wineries that should not be missed. During our meals, we spoke about where we'll eat our next meal. It was one big, long, glorious food fest. I belonged, we all belonged. There were no judgements, no attitudes, just love.
And when we travelled to other lands, we missed Cortona. Our friends here welcomed us back and made room at the dinner table without skipping a beat. It's as if we've never left. It is beautiful.
I don't think I've changed in the 6 months I've lived here. I am still the same person I always was. I've just been dealing with the pains life has thrown at me...as we all do.
After moving to Cortona, I was able to shed some of that pain and find joy again. I had a lot of help from my tribe... and for that, I am forever grateful.
I travel abroad with a new found peace and inner strength.
And knowing that there is so much to live for, so many people still to meet and so much to see.
I'll be back Cortona...
And I'll hold you and my tribe close to my heart while I'm gone.