Day 3–Living as an expatriate in Italy–questions

I am still involved in this community event called Homer Davenport Days in my birthplace of Silverton, Oregon. I have signed up for an author’s booth to sell the books I have remaining.

On this day I met another old acquaintance–her folks bought our old house back in 1972. She saw me on FB and remembered me. Incredible. Well, she wanted a couple of copies. At the event in Silverton I sold a couple more copies. Not enough to pay for my move to Italy but better than nothing, right?

I was fortunate enough to meet with a former boss of mine. She is a dynamic woman and is one of the best bosses I ever had. We had an incredible talk and it was very encouraging.

Even though I am stoked about moving to Italy, I still can’t help but feel a twinge in my heart. I am leaving everything I know as well as my history. At fifty-five I’m comfortable here in the Willamette Valley.

But it’s that comfort that is helping to drive me. I want more. Having a home in the suburbs is not enough for me. Indulging in Portland’s fantastic culinary scene is not enough. I need more.

My former boss is in my shoes, too. She’s searching. We’re both voyagers, she said. And she’s right. It didn’t occur to me to describe it in that manner. But she’s right.

And I am not sure why I’m in this mode. But as I search back over the decades, I’ve always been searching. I’ve done it professionally with the myriad jobs I’ve had. I did it when I moved to Southern California in 1982. I did it in college–I attended four different schools before alighting on Oregon State University, my alma matter. I had numerous majors (this can be very common for young people). And now I find myself once again searching, perusing, questioning.

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me or any of my readers that I’ve been trying to find out where I fit in. Even though everyone accepts me, I never feel like I belong. Is that my own insecurity? Is it an innate sense, genetic? Is it an inability to commit or settle?

Or does it come from something deeper, almost sinister? I believe that I’ve overcome the insecurities regarding my adoption and my relationship with the mother I never knew. Am I kidding myself? Is there more psychological garbage that must be addressed? Am I suffering from a mother deficit?

Or could it be something as simple as being bedazzled by my heritage and wanting to taste it more deeply? Ever since I went to Italy in 1997, I’ve been smitten with the country and everything about it. Especially my family. I’ve always chalked it down to knowledge of my background, experiencing my cultural heritage. More than anything, because of my trips to Italy, my family and my experiences, I feel like I belong. I feel like I should be there.

Italy is the only place where I’ve ever really felt comfortable. And I don’t know, perhaps I’m elevating it to an unsustainable level. It might be that I’ll move there and find out that it’s not all that and a bag of chips. I’m aware of the cultural differences and lifestyle differences. Will they be a killjoy for me? Will they be substantial enough to blow the petals off the rose?

Or will I find them quaint and unimportant? Will I find the life I’m seeking? I’ve been asking God to show me the desires of my heart since I don’t really believe I know. Believe it or not, I wasn’t seeing Italy as a “desire of my heart”. Is Italy that very thing?

I’ve never married. I have no children. I never saw relationships as something attainable for me. I never saw them as anything I could pursue or establish. I always maintained that I was too much a selfish asshole to qualify me as a father or partner.  And let’s not forget the father deficit.

It’s no secret that the two fathers I had, adoptive and biological, failed miserably as fathers. Now, in Italy, I have these healthy male family relationships that, I believe, will help to nurture me. Am I asking for too much? Am I expecting too much? Am I fantasizing?

Funny thing is, the examples I mentioned above are exacerbated in Italy. Family is everything. I stick out like a sore thumb. Fifty-five, never married, no kids. I sometimes feel like the weird uncle that everyone looks upon pitifully. For a number of years I was always being asked when I would get married. It doesn’t happen anymore because it’s obvious that I will never marry. As a matter of fact, I don’t really feel a discomfort about my bachelorhood anymore. But sometimes it pops into my head.

Yet, these questions that swirl through my mind are not enough to keep me from this pursuit. I’m also finding that the trappings of life that Americans are “supposed” to pursue and acquire no longer hold anything for me. I don’t want a two thousand square foot house anymore. I’m tired of yard work. I’m tired of maintaining a home. I’m tired of an unfulfilling life. I want more.

I want a simpler life, one that doesn’t include getting into my car for something as mundane as groceries. I don’t want a car anymore, if I can help it. I don’t want possessions to possess me. I don’t want to worry about maintaining “stuff”. I want experiences and relationships.

But am I tired because I’m truly feeling unfulfilled by American society? Or am I tired because I haven’t achieved what I think I should so I’m blaming American society? Is this a cop-out?

I must admit that it’s liberating. Yet once again I feel like I’m on the outside looking in. I seem to want and pursue something that is different than everyone else. No one else seems to be pursuing this path. But then so what? Do I need to do what everyone else is doing to feel accepted? I’ve done that my whole life. Did it make me feel more accepted?

I’m gonna have to be happy and confident in the path that I’m pursuing. I had nothing but support from everyone I know. Some people are even envious. It’s encouraging.

Questions can overwhelm, especially when you’re as analytical as I am. But they’re necessary. I will have more. But they won’t keep me from going.





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