Musings in Lugano, Switzerland

Even though I’ve just arrived in Switzerland, I feel compelled to backtrack a bit.

Before arriving in Lugano, Switzerland, I spent a couple of days with my beloved cousin, Sergio, in Turin. He was very excited to hear about my travels. I hadn’t seen him since around January so it was great to get together.

As with many others, Sergio seemed a bit surprised when he found out I was returning to America for good in November. That, in turn always surprises me. Everyone knows I have been unable to find work in Italy. I even expressed that I knew the odds were stacked against me and that I’d be returning after a year.

I think, though, that most people didn’t hear the last part. They were too bedazzled by my decision to make this leap of faith. I suppose that is to be expected.

Anyway, Sergio was forthright in telling me that he always believed that I should remain in Portland. As he sees it, my roots are there. My support system is there. He understood fully when I told him how difficult it is to create a life in a place like Alba Adriatica where there are few Americans and even fewer people who speak English.

Too, Alba, being a newer city, does not have what I seek–the historicity of Italy and it’s magnificent culture, architecture and cuisine. Lack of transportation holds me back as does any type of support system.

Yet Sergio never told me that. I think he’s intelligent enough to know I had to figure it out on my own. But it was more than that. He was fascinated to hear about my trek to Ukraine and how it impacted me. I told him I’m planning on returning to Lviv to spend more time with my family and try to seek information on my maternal grandmother’s family.

We discussed how this expatriate experience has impacted me. I know that I am to remain in Oregon. And I am completely okay with that. I have a substantial family unit here in Europe but they have their own lives and live in different cultures with different languages. I must embrace the life that is best for me.

That life is in Portland, Oregon.

I am looking forward to returning. I will miss Italy but I want the change of seasons the Willamette Valley affords me. I want to see my breath when autumn arrives and watch the fog roll over the hills. I am hoping for snow this winter (although I don’t want ice!). I cannot wait to imbibe in Portland’s food culture again and I’m anxious to see the changes wrought in the skyline.

And I can’t wait to see what is in store for me professionally. Truth be told, I am anxious to start working again. I feel a zeal I haven’t felt in years and I feel a sense that I can conquer the world. It’s similar to the feeling I had when I graduated from Oregon State University–the world was my oyster then as it is now.

It’s nearing midnight now in Switzerland. The room I rented through Airbnb is in a security building with a balcony. I’m overlooking Lake Lugano. As the lights from the hillside homes dance in the night, I can’t help but wonder how I can leave experiences like this behind, even when they are so short-lived. Yet I can’t help but wonder what my new life will be like in my old home.

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