Years ago, I had met a younger woman whose fashion sense was much more avant-garde than I was, and whose opinion about life was far more sophisticated than mine. The fact that she was Italian was still a blessing.
I was in Florence, Italy, as a guest of a friend, and soon got along well with her. Her husband was also a part-time New Yorker, and the three of us would get together for dinners. I tried to learn as much as I could about his world. Among the interesting things I learned was that when Italian women put on a fake smile — which, according to traditional and contemporary Italian mothering style, is “o’seversie,” or a hard smile — they put on a fake power smile. A fake power smile.
I was right there with my own mother in waking up, figuring out what my new outfit was going to be for the day, and chatting up my husband as we went out to the store. Now, when we go out to the store, I watch every move my husband makes. As we walk, we use every edge of language and business etiquette in the Italian language.
In Italy I got the chance to get to know the culinary treasures of Florence. My experiences in its most luxurious spas became regular dinners, and the fights I got into over the best crostini and the best bottle of wine became dates and coffee meetings for me. I was both grateful and humbled by my time in Italy.
But you know the saying: Never the twain shall meet. The end. The end was near. I was desperate for something that would help a man embrace life and meaning beyond a successful career and successful relationship.
I met someone who kept me fascinated with Italian culture and history, and he made me laugh.
I was home-baked in Florence, and I never left my place again, not even to get a hot drink. Instead, I had all sorts of good adventures and made many new friends, lots of new girlfriends, and we regularly made dinner together. I heard my mother speak Italian and I spoke back. I and my girlfriend enjoyed my Italian life. I was right there with my own mother in waking up, figuring out what my new outfit was going to be for the day, and chatting up my husband as we went out to the store. Now, when we go out to the store, I watch every move my husband makes. As we walk, we use every edge of language and business etiquette in the Italian language.
My friends and I have spent many holidays together in Italy and I spent my last birthday here. I have fallen madly in love with Italy.
I am a woman who finally has found a mate who does not see her as a homemaker or an investment banker or a doctor. I have found a partner who makes me laugh, loves my adventure and always wants to learn more. No man can woo me like an Italian girlfriend can. He made me feel at home, beloved, and worth living for. Italy gave me a second chance to laugh, to read, to learn, to travel, to breathe. Italy, my new love, helps me focus on the elements of life that make me happy, not just on myself and my family.
I am not so ashamed of what I used to be, even though some people in my life may have judged me for that. I am more proud of what I am now and eager to keep that feeling alive. After all, it is never too late to pick up your life and move to Italy.