FROM TOURIST TO ITALIAN RESIDENT, BUT WHY?

It was love at first sight over 30 years ago- this love affair I have with the Amalfi Coast.  This spectacularly beautiful place still takes my breath away.

It’s been an interesting, challenging, wonderous, and scary first month settling into my ‘Barbie-sized’ apartment in Atrani, Italy.  Some call me brave or adventurous; while others think I am simply crazy.  I think it is all of those things.  But most of all, I think each of us is driven by something, something unique to us- this may include the need to belong, the need for success or status (whatever that means), the need for safety, the need for predictability, the need for identity, etc.  Well, I think some of us are driven by something far different.

Remember those carnival rides- carousels, ferris wheels, bumper cars, & roller coasters?  Being raised with 3 boys (2 brothers and a male cousin), we were quite the daredevils.  I quickly outgrew the carousels in favor of faster, steeper roller coasters, and hammer rides that not only went fast but upside down.  And I think some people like me are searching for that same rush.  Some might say thrill-seekers or adrenaline junkies.  Some will sky-dive, climb mountains or race cars.  International travel gave me that rush- for a while- and still does.   

But investing personally, financially, spiritually & physically in another country, culture, & language is a wonderful high to me.  It seems to feed my need for adventure, my overwhelming curiosity, and my strong identity as a global citizen (friends call it my ‘gypsy soul’).  What a thrill to tackle a new place, solo without a net!  The world is an interesting, awed-inspiring place.  And exploring new cultures, languages, customs, and history, up close and personal is energizing.  

An estimated 34% of Americans own a passport.  That means the vast majority of Americans can’t even leave the US.  And of that 34%, most venture past US soil for the occasional vacation.  However some Americans have moved to a foreign country for work, military service, school, or after meeting a significant other.  A few retire as a couple overseas.  When you dissect the numbers further, how many single sane Americans actually choose to live abroad, outside the structure and comfort of work, Uncle Sam, school, or with a foreign/domestic partner?  Yep, that’s me.  So I understand why some see me as a lunatic.

Even Americans living abroad (for work, school, military or retirement couples) find people like me an exception, or is that ‘just special’?  And there’s no statistics about my group, the group I will call, ‘Living-Global-Solo’.  We are a small, select & eccentric group.  And surprise-surprise, we are few and far between.  We might be as rare as diamonds, but we are just as tough.

So that’s why I did it.  I needed that thrill, to feed my global curiosity, & spread my gypsy wings (again).  And living in Atrani, Italy ‘without a net’ gets my adrenaline pumping.  Plus,
it’s one of the most spectacularly beautiful places on earth.  I’ll be easy to find, I’m the one smiling through confusing Italian communications, metric measurements, Euros not dollars, and cultural missteps.  And sometimes I’ll get really, really lost.  “Where am I? Haven’t I been lost here before?”  Even lost, I am one of the lucky ones.  I have found a life that fuels my soul- and I know I am living the life destined for me….

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