The Journey Begins…

In a nutshell, here are things so far:

–       There are always a million and one things to do before leaving. I know this. Why did I still feel strapped for time? Probably because I’m OCD about things, and nothing is ever fully ‘done’ in enough time to my satisfaction. Hopefully, my time away will help me let up on that so I can focus on things that are genuinely important rather than stressing about the little things. It all came together in the end – hooray!

–       Saying goodbye to life in Seattle (even for a bit) was harder than I’d imagined. My time there has been good and I’ve had a much better experience the past few months since I decided I was leaving. I couldn’t imagine being away from all the hustle and bustle of ‘life’ there as I knew it. I think it got so busy and constantly at a higher speed than I’m used to that this opportunity will feel like a shock to my system.

–       I miss Snickers. I felt sooo bad leaving her for such a length of time. She’s such a particular, finicky cat who relies on me for love, and a routine, stable home. I have had her for 4 ½ years and suddenly not having her around is hard on me, but I’m sure it’s harder for her. She is staying in a very good home in Kirkland. My neighbor in Kirkland named Mark and his girlfriend Chris always would interact with Snickers, and she liked them too. Chris is the one who has Snickers at her condo. There’s another cat there, Princess. Hopefully they’ll get along. I dropped her off Thurs. and so far so good from what Chris said. Snickers has eaten more and been out more than she was a few weeks back when we did a week-long trial run. That’s a step in the right direction!

–       Saying goodbye to Ajith was really difficult. We’ve been in each others’ lives now just about 6 years. Only in recent months have I realized just how much we depend on one another. This past week we lived together as I gave up my place and prepared for this time away. It was wonderful and I will miss his company as much as he’ll miss mine. I feel fortunate we have the opportunity to be away from one another to fully appreciate the other differently than we have been able to being together so much. But…I’m also trying to realize that things will be different (no matter what) when I get back. Thinking of that is hard. :-/ Unfortunately I didn’t have a lot of time to process such changes before I left, so I expect in the next few weeks there’ll be more that comes up about this.

–       The trip to Italy was loooong but I arrived safely. Luckily, I was able to sleep on the flights. I started off getting anxious suddenly as I was walking down the hall to board the plane, and it snowballed as I hung up the phone from talking to Ajith for the last time (with the realization hitting me hard that our relationship will never be exactly the same again), realizing suddenly that in less than one month, I just gave up my job, my home (which now fits nicely into a 10×15 storage unit), my cat, my car, etc. All of this suddenly came crashing down on me the moment I realized, “Wow, I’m really almost on my way.”  This was the moment I’d spent months preparing for and suddenly… there it was! The stress was relieved as I sat down concluding that I had NOTHING to worry about anymore really – what a SHOCK to the system! I was a mess. I’m so used to worrying about this or that and to literally be able to sit and think of nothing in a whole 8 hour flight was just weird.

–       I met a really interesting woman named Lani on the plane from JFK to Rome. We had a wonderful conversation for the first couple hours and it definitely helped ease my anxiety though I’m sure she saw it. As soon as I walked on the plane we started chatting. This was such a relief because I started to really lose it right then thinking about all the above. During our time together, she helped me see that each day is such a gift, how important it is to keep moving forward through each day though sometimes it’s harder than we ever would’ve imagined it’d be. She shared various aspects of her life with me that she lost her brother to cancer, then she herself developed breast cancer, and is still battling through it while staying strong for her family (husband and 3 kids) and keeping up with her career which challenges her (in a good way) all the time. I realized the preciousness of life and saw how fortunate I was to have met her.  This took my mind off my own chaos for a while which was definitely welcomed. We said goodbye at the train station as she headed to her hotel in Rome while I figured out how to get to San Giovanni Valdarno where I will attend school.

–       I found my way to the correct train track and got off in San Giovanni Valdarno okay! The school’s director, Anna Paola, met me there and she took me to the apartment I’ll be staying in. On our way she was showing me the street to walk down to get to the school and the grocery store. The apartment is on the 3rd floor – very quiet little place. That was the first thing I noticed is how quiet and quaint it is here – a huge contrast from my Seattle apartment. There is a living room, small dining area, small kitchen, 2 bathrooms and 2 bedrooms. It has a nice balcony with a beautiful view of mountainous area and it’s absolutely serene. I know I’ll be spending time out there. I share this apartment for this week with an older Scottish man named Fred. He comes here once a year to keep up on Italian, and this is his 8th year coming. He’s very friendly so more to come on him I’m sure. After spending some time chatting I cleaned up and felt 100 times better! I forgot what heat and humidity (plus traveling over 24 hours) feels like. Needless to say, I was much happier afterward.

–       I went to sleep after 9:30pm and woke up at 3:30am. I remembered this last year when Jared and I went to Paris we were awake for a few hours due to jet lag. Since then sat in silence and I’ve been writing this blog entry. I will have internet in a few hours once I get to the school to be able to post it. Not having internet access at my fingertips is a change for sure!


–       I began class today at 9. It was all in Italian, and was a bit nervous whether or not I’d understand everything! I was placed in a class at a much lower level than I am just to see if that was okay or not. I’ll be in a higher level tomorrow so hopefully that’ll be more challenging. Being here is complete immersion – that’s what I wanted. I am sure it’ll be just a matter of time before it all starts flowing better.

–       One snafu is that I didn’t have a converter for my laptop power cord – gotta figure out that one. I’m borrowing one of the school’s for today. Yikes!

–        Today is the day I’ll also need to get some basic groceries and a supply of water and start to settle in more. Wish me luck!  More to come soon with photos.

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7 Responses to The Journey Begins…

  1. Susan says:

    Melissa I am so happy for you that you have the opportunity to take this adventure! Whatever happens, just be in the moment and soak it all in. Right now, you are truly having the “time off your life” that you will look back on with awe and pleasure forever. Be open to the possibilities and enjoy it!

  2. Ajith Prabhakar says:

    This blog was a brilliant idea! Enjoy the quiet and calm in SGV. It must be fantastic to be away from the every-day noises coming from the Seattle Center and the city. I’d love to see pics of your balcony and apartment, when you have a chance to post them. Good luck with school!! This is what you’ve wanted for so long – you’ll do very well.

    I miss you terribly as well. I know we both don’t know what’s next in our lives – but, in some ways, it’s not very different from how it was in April-May 2008 when we were both looking for jobs all over the country. I’ll keep my fingers crossed until we know.

    One last thing, the practical side wanting to give you a tip: Your computer cord goes from 100-240V, and either 50Hz or 60Hz. So, other than need an attachment for the plugs in Italy, it should work just fine.

  3. Becca says:

    I agree — great idea and fun to read about your adventures. Enjoy the serenity as you settle in!

  4. Stefani says:

    Yay Melissa! Good luck! You are going to have such an awesome adventure… who knows what will happen, this is the very beginning! Reading this reminded me of my trip to Europe in the summer of 2000 when I studied abroad in Germany for the summer.

    I remember the crazy long plane ride, the confusion, the exhaustion, the jet lag, the excitement… being so far out of my comfort zone that it didn’t even matter. Please take lots of pictures of your apartment, the town, the view from your balcony, your flat-mate, your school… and post them 🙂 Can’t wait to read about more adventures!

  5. Jeremy Mccann says:

    Melissa, so glad you made it okay. Please keep up the blog – great idea!

  6. Melissa dearest, thank you so much for sharing your experience with us in this way! I’m so thrilled for you as you step beyond your comfort zone into growth and expansion! Keep up your wonderful postings and I’m hoping for pictures, too! I Love You!

  7. Karen Burke says:

    Great idea for the blog. I will read it everyday to see about your adventures! Post lots of photos of your apt. and area. I love that you are taking cooking classes – you can cook for me when you come home! GOOD LUCK in your classes.

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