I am, at the moment, preparing to fit my entire life into the boxy confines of two gigantic suitcases and one more modestly-sized carry-on bag, which may or may not be slightly pushing the limits of the airline’s baggage size requirements and are definitely not large enough to accommodate every single item I’d originally deemed necessary to bring with me. I never truly realized how much stuff I had acquired over the past few years until now, when it’s all spread out in front of me and I’m spending my evenings sifting through the closet and delivering garbage bag after garbage bag of clothing to charity or writing up Craigslist ads for every single piece of furniture I own; breaking my life here up into little fragments and then trying to entice people to take them off my hands.
It would be easier, I think, to turn my back on everything and flee the country right now. I’ve never been one to enjoy the process of tying up loose ends, and this entire month is made up of nothing but loose ends. Then again, nobody ever said that preparing to move overseas to a foreign country would be a quick, easy process.
On September 1st, I will haul my suitcases to the airport and board a plane. One day later, with countless kilometres, two airports and several time zones behind me, I’ll touch down in Rome, Italy.
Most of you have already seen my numerous Facebook and Twitter posts referencing this upcoming move, but I haven’t gone into any detail about why I’m moving overseas, or why I picked Rome. I think that might be because I don’t even have all the answers myself. When you’re on the verge of doing something that can only be described as intentionally turning your very well organized, comfortable, mostly happy life upside down and then shaking it, people really expect you to have some kind of definitive, satisfying explanation ready to present to them.
I think it boils down to this: I’m moving because I’m pursuing this kind of hazy image of what my ideal life might look like that’s been bouncing around inside my head for a few years now, dangling just out of reach; I’m moving because I need a change of scenery, a change of pace, something new, something exciting, something challenging… something to keep me on my toes with my eyes wide open. In a way, I’m moving simply because I can – because I know that if I don’t go now, I might never get another chance to leave. Timing, after all, is everything.
While it might be nearly impossible to neatly sum up the why around the move itself, it’s easier to put my finger on why I zeroed in on Rome. The reasons behind Rome line themselves up in one persuasive bullet point after another: The food, the coffee, the lifestyle, the language, the people, the beauty of the buildings and the streets and the country that surrounds them, and then, just for good measure, the food again.
When I was in Rome last September, I spent six of the best days of my life wandering the city’s crooked streets. There was a moment – I remember it exactly – where I was sitting at a little marble-topped table perched precariously on top of the uneven cobblestones outside one of those coffee shops that looks like it’s just been pulled directly out of another century and plunked into the present. I was sitting there with my hands wrapped around a cappuccino, and I was watching the little dramas of everyday life unfold around me – women on bikes dodging vespas, a vendor selling plump tomatoes from a three-wheeled car, a portly chef accepting a delivery of half a pig from a blood-splattered butcher, ivy climbing up the sides of the buildings and the morning sunlight turning the whole thing gold – and it was at that moment, precisely, that I thought to myself, “I could see myself living here. No, I will see myself living here”.
And now, finally, after months of waiting and planning and waiting some more, it’s almost time for that chapter of my life to begin.