Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bread and Tulips

The title of today’s post is also the title of one of my favorite Italian movies. It’s the story of a woman who doesn’t know that she has lost herself until her family loses her by forgetting her at a highway rest stop. She goes on an adventure, follows her heart, and finds her creative talents in the most unexpected ways.

Sometimes, when we’re not looking, life finds us, and then asks us to find ourselves. When I first came to live in Rome, I had saved just enough money to pay for a room for about 5 or 6 months. It was literally my life savings. After having worked for a couple years in the “real world” with my freshly minted college degree, and having braved by myself one whirlwind month here, I moved back in with my parents after 6 years out of the house, worked almost daily in a grocery store bagging and cashiering, as well as part time in advertising. Anything to get my little “nest egg” together to go for my dream, as fast as possible.

When I got here and started living day to day, I had absolutely no extra money. For anything. Even though I was managing to scrape together a bit here and there tutoring English, it was the first time in my life I had to ask myself questions like, “Can I afford shampoo and conditioner? Or just shampoo?” I am in no way trying to garner sympathy by telling you this. I'm fully aware that there are much bigger problems in the world. I guess I just got to thinking about Ms. Adventures in Italy’s comment on yesterday’s post: not everyone’s road to success in Italy is paved with living in a hotel while remodeling their dream home. And that’s a really good thing.

Anyone who has gone on this kind of an adventure knows that really making it in a foreign country involves an unspeakable amount of hard work. Embarrassment. Fear. And those who succeed can look back and know that blind faith comes into play. A lot.

When I had almost nothing else besides my family and friends back home, Alessandro, and my blind faith, I started writing down the things I wanted in my life here. Kind of a wish list, convinced that I was headed in that direction. I’ll never forget: one of the things I wrote, one of the goals I hoped I would reach, was to be able to afford flowers for no reason. Flowers, and a daily newspaper.

Yesterday afternoon on the way back from the grocery store, I stopped to look at these tulips. They seemed a little too expensive to me (8 euro). But the truth is, I so rarely buy flowers for no reason that I don’t really know what a good price would be. And that’s when I remembered what I had written back then.

So I went ahead and bought them. Because after all these years, I realized that I could. And now, the tulips sitting on my desk are not just adding a little extra color—they are a reminder of where a little blind faith and a dream can take you.

What steps are you taking to nurture your “crazy, impossible” dream?


tatiana said...

Bellissimo film!
L'dea di perdersi e di ritrovarsi in modo inaspettato!
L'idea di..."ire senza meta..!!" di andare errabondi senza saper bene dove nella speranza che la vita ci scopra e ci sorprenda. Noi italiani spesso ci affidiamo alla speranza vuoi un latente stato di pigrizia che sempre ci accompagna e una buona dose di fatalismo, nei momenti in cui ci sentiamo un po disorientati....speriamo!Quasi che ci fosse un "Deus ex machina" che guarda e risolve!Se a parlare fosse il raziocinio direi che non sempre è se a parlare fosse l'italiana direi invece che SPESSO è cosi! La cosa importante è riuscire a tenere sempre le braccia abbastanza aperte da poter abbracciare tutto quello che la vita stessa ci regala perchè le cose importanti il più delle volte sono gratis! :-)

Gracie said...

My motto is "stay open" I tell this to anyone. Coz you never know what's around the corner. Me? I'm too old to re-invent my life and I have too much obligations. I have a nice guy as a husband and a decent little woman as a daugher, I can't think of not having them and instead living another life, but if back then I didn't know what I would have today, I would have travelled all around the world stopping here and there without a real schedule. Now this is only a dream, and my daughter's too, I really hope she will accomplish it, so I will keep dreaming through her.

Anonymous said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes. First off, I love that movie too.

When I came to Italy, just two years ago, I wasn't sure what was going to happen. I often describe my move here as this...
standing at the edge of a cliff, afraid to move, afraid not to move. I took a deep breath and asked myself "what is the worse thing that could happen? It doesn't work out and I will be foreced to move back to the States and listen to all those who said "it wont work out" say "I told you so". With that, I closed my eyes and took the biggest leap of faith in my life. The good news is that I landed on my feet and I am very happy in my new life here. But even if I hadn't landed of my feet, would that have really been so bad.

From one cliff jumper to another, enjoy those flowers and everything they represnt!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

I love that film too. I am not having a good week and your post made me choke up. I like my job (not L.A.) but know I need to make a major change in my life and stop sleep walking through it. I have already said I want to be in Rome in 3 years (at least part time) and I am working toward that goal.

It seems such a crazy idea. I'm not young (although I feel it and look it), have no savings, barely speak the language and have no idea how I would pay my bills there. Most of my Roman friends in the film biz would love to work in Hollywood and I can't wait to leave it. LOL

Best case scenario I could still work in the film biz (as a writer/producer) but would not have to live in Los Angeles. In the meantime I'm working on getting my EU passport.

It's great you bought those flowers. Like Cynthia said they do represent something wonderful. I do buy gebera daises all the time (at the little farmers market for $5) because they cheer me up. It's nice to treat yourself once in a while.

Expat Traveler said...

what a post!!! Ah what a dream. I know I share much of your goals too.. So crazy...

Well since I'm that permanent expat, I think I'm working on that dream.. It's slow and painstaking for sure... inspirational!!!

Anonymous said...

Your post made me cry but in a good way

Thank you for reminding me about buying flowers for no reason.

For following dreams.

avery said...

What a great post! It is so inspiring to hear that you are doing what you have been dreaming of and worked hard towards fulfilling that dream. Your story of coming to Italy and having "blind faith" totally hits home with me.
I haven't seen that movie but now I can't wait to see it.

Sassy said...

What an uplifting post. I just bought some sunflowers for a friend the other day "just because." I firmly believe that life needs to have those types of moments so that we can appreciate the ups....and the downs. Now, what are my dreams???

Ms Adventures in Italy said...

Very nice....I'm glad you got the gist of my experience of coming over here was very very similar (as I'll tell u in person) and totally by the seat of my pants. Badly done, but done nonetheless. I definitely went through the shampoo-conditioner conversations as well...I'd love to exchange lists with you sometime :)

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I smile when I realize how similar we are. Back in my ultra broke, can't afford to get a bagel for $1.05, eating lunch from the scraps of the executive boardroom days - my big luxury was buying one, ONE, calla lily from the corner flower booth one Friday a month when they were only $1. I'd love to say that I treat myself to flowers all the time now, but I don't. However, when I see cala lillies at the store or flower booth, I buy a ton of them. Like 20. And then I look at them and remember the brave girl that uncrumpled her one dollar bill in the rain for a single and give her credit for being so brave.
And since I know we were going through the same things at the same time, I think about us both and how we managed to get through it and get ourselves to where we are today.
You know that your my hero already - but this story *might* have brought a little tear to my eye.

Anonymous said...

that was a beautiful post, really! i made the big leap to rome 10 years ago and now i'm considering making the big leap back to USA... it's confusing & hard but sometimes you've just gotta try. it's never too late to make sure you are where you want to be (=

African Kelli said...

how funny! Have we talked about this before? Bread and Tulips is one of my favorite films of all time. I often rent foreign films just because and this was a GEM. Loved it. And don't think I don't have serious dreams of just getting off the tour bus myself one of these days.

Tracie B. said...

this is difficult for me too because i'm going through a tough period of frustration with italy. want to stay/want to go...i though i'd have things figured out by now. HA!

but i'll never regret having taken the chance.

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

Thanks everyone for the heartfelt comments. Here's a box of virtual Kleenex... ;-)

I was a little hesitant about posting this because it is personal, but I have appreciated other people sharing their "expat experiences" and I feel blessed to be at a point where I can look back and give myself a little pat on the back. Just wanted to send the message out to people at the beginning of their journey that: Yes, it does get better! Day by day is the only way to go, and trying never to close any doors.