Nobody said living in Italy would be easy, and if they did, they lied. While many people harbor a fantasy of packing their bags and buying a one way ticket to a farmhouse under the Tuscan sun, the reality of living in that farmhouse is much different from the movie.
In my case things began a little differently, mostly because I never had that fantasy. Italy simply happened to me. I came, I fell in love, and it physically hurt to leave so I kept coming back.. more and more frequently. And when I finally got tired of living out of suitcases I found a way to stay a while. I know it sounds a little crazy, but it’s true. And while living here has been a dream in many ways, it has also proved to have some challenges. Most of my Italian friends still find it hard to believe that I am choosing to stay when there are so many more financial opportunities in the US. Most Italians would jump at the opportunity to go live in LA, but I am choosing to stay.
Most days my life is pretty boring and made up of routine… school, work, teaching yoga, meeting friends, and such. But every once in a while, we are gifted with a day that truly makes us question, assess, and evaluate our life choices. Yesterday was one of those days.
I am still in the process of getting my residency card or permesso and yesterday I had to visit Questura or the immigration center in Florence to jump through one final hoop before my card can be processed. There are a handful of hoops one must jump through in order to obtain said residency card and it normally takes close to 6 months for the process, each hoop plagued by a dreaded visit to Questura which could last anywhere from 3 to 5 hours, yep that’s right, nearly a full day. Imagine your worst day at the DMV without an appointment and multiply that by 5. But I’m a yogi and I have a system for days at Questura.. I pack snacks, I bring school work, I bring my meditation music, etc.. I learned early on that I could either fight the process and suffer , or I could embrace it and just make the most of my time there.
Yesterday I was prepared as always.. I packed my bag, showed up early to my appointment, and was honestly sort of excited at the prospect of completing this last challenge and submitting my final set of fingerprints. But the universe had something else in store for me.. from the moment I arrived all went wrong. There was a 3 hour line out the door, people where on edge, police officers were yelling at people in line and people in line were yelling at the police, it was simply a mad house. One important thing to mention here is that you must somehow get yourself into the building between the hours of 8 and 9 am to collect your number or you can forget about being seen that day; needless to say everyone in line was on edge and afraid of missing their appointment. So what did I do? I panicked.
I tried reaching out to a friend who might be able to help, I pleaded my case with the officer at the door and tried to prove to him the time of my appointment, but it didn’t work. I was told to go to the end of the line which would have meant missing my appointment completely. I didn’t go to the back of the line. I hung out and waited for another officer to come out.. then I somehow talked my way into the building. Small miracle. Things didn’t get any easier from there. To make a long story short I spent the next few hours at Questura questioning what the heck I am doing in Italy and whether all this nonsense was even worth it. I mean, I could easily get on a plane and head back to beautiful California where I can make a comfortable living in my professional architectural design career, drive a luxury suv, spend weekends in Malibu or up in the mountains with friends, be closer to my family, etc… so why am I here? Why am I choosing to stay in Italy?
But then, after what turned out to be a very challenging morning, I successfully completed all that was required of me and took myself to a proper lunch.. I needed to get into a different mindset before going to teach my weekly yoga class at my language school.
Allora, what began as a day of panic and questioning my life choices ended with the most beautiful yoga class I’ve ever had the pleasure of facilitating. So many beautiful souls showed up to class, regulars, new students from the school, a friend, and even one of my favorite teachers. A room full of yogis practicing yin and the art of allowing. And I was able to facilitate it in Italian. Sometimes, it’s still hard to believe that I’m able to facilitate a class in Italian, feels like a miracle. One of the students even brought Sicilian treats from a friend’s wedding with her for all of us to enjoy after the lesson.
After an hour of yin, pranayama, and a gentle meditation I left the school feeling light, grounded, and utterly at peace. I left feeling confident that I am exactly where I am supposed to be in my life and that regardless of the challenges that Italy sometimes throws my way, I am choosing to live here and to be a part of this beautiful and diverse community.
I guess the bottom line is that regardless of what your dream is, there will be days when it sucks, and it will make you question why you’re even doing it in the first place. Don’t fight those days, feel them completely, question everything, and be open to the answers that come up.