I guess I haven’t written anything in a while because I’ve been too busy trying to participate. A friend once told me that leaving your job is worse than breaking up with your boyfriend. This very true and very discomforting fact has illuminated itself in my life and I guess I’m experiencing effects far more advanced than a break-up.
I packed up and moved my entire life to Italy. I left my friends and my family and my pets and my comfort at home and I ventured into the unknown abyss of “the other side of the world”. I knew no-one here. I knew no Italian words and I knew almost nothing about the culture and traditions and untimely public holidays these people celebrate. The little research I did regarding my new city became a complete waste of time and for the first two weeks here, I felt like an alien. Living in the fashion capital, I was suddenly particularly conscious of what I was wearing, how slowly I was walking, how strange my accent was to these people. It was very exciting and illuminating, but at the same time, I felt secluded. I felt different and I felt out of place.
Over time, I started feeling a stronger connection to the world around me. I started reading O Aleph by Paulo Coelho, which tracks his journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Unable to communicate with the locals and surrounded by new and strange things, I felt less lonely for the first time in 2 weeks. It was as if he were hugging me through his book – a hug I was in dire need of, having only been kissed on the cheeks by various strangers ever since I arrived. What he made me realise was that I, in fact, was not a stranger. I was not a foreigner. Because we are all travelling. We are all full of the same questions, the same tiredness, the same fears, the same selfishness and the same generosity. Every day, life here became easier.
I made the decision of momentarily breaking contact with the ones back home. Since we so often become imprisoned by our memories, they tend to make our lives wretched, even if we have everything we need in order to be happy. You have to stop thinking about what you’ll tell people afterwards. The time is here. The time is now.
By this time, I started making friends with people from all over the world – Americans, Australians, Germans, people from Sweden, from Czech Republic, England, and I even found myself some beautiful South African friends. Apart from that, I found the Italians to be an incredibly friendly, approachable race, and had been invited along with some Italian friends to various exciting places. Even if I didn’t understand much of what they were saying, the thought of them including me made me feel like I could finally understand everything.
Though I was alone and had to face most of every day all by myself, I had found a support base that made those tough moments and decisions so much easier to face. By week 5, I had decided that home was no longer what it used to be. This was home now. And what used to be home seemed to never have been home. Because if it was, I would never have left.
I learnt to be independent. To fend for myself. To be myself. To pluck up the courage to start a fight with a dishonest cashier. But the biggest lesson learnt is that a place is only as good as the people in it. If it weren’t for the many friends I made, the precious bottles of wine we shared, and the ridiculous nights some of us will never remember, this entire experience would’ve been half the trip of a lifetime it turned out to be.
and don’t be sorry.
– Jack Kerouac