Seattle To Italy In One Not-So-Fell Swoop (Part 1)

This is the first post in the series, Seattle To Italy In One Not-So-Fell Swoop, including:
Part 2 and Part 3 

In the fall of 2012, Jason and I moved from the rainy, evergreen shrouded hills of Seattle, WA (USA) to a small valley in northern Italy, in a region called Trentino-Alto Adige.

Our reason? There are many reasons, many compelling life forces that catapulted us in this direction, but none of them are simple or straightforward or easy to articulate.

We needed a change, I guess.

Pike Place Market, Downtown Seattle
Pike Place Market, Downtown Seattle

I’d lived in the Pacific Northwest for almost a decade, though I grew up in the South (Kentucky); my other half, J, spent much of his youth on Whidbey Island, north of Seattle (where we met). We’d both tried to leave the Pacific Northwest before, but the area always managed to lure us back. Places do that sometimes.

By 2012, we were decaying under Seattle’s waterlogged skies. Under her phlegmatic, eco-smug culture, and the gray, gray, gray that prevailed in almost any season. The place was beginning to swallow us whole.

It was time to go.

Seattle skyline from South Lake Union
Seattle skyline from South Lake Union

But where to? That was a harder decision than the one to leave. We scoured the US for other cities, looking for good weather, good food, and a mix of cultures. But nothing fit the bill. San Diego was too hot, Boston too cold and traditional. Denver was too far inland while Chicago seemed…well, too Chicago. We considered New Orleans, but the humidity. The crime. Ugh. Nothing seemed right.

That’s when I threw out the idea, “What about Europe?”

“Hmmm,” Jason tilted his head.

“We’ve always talked about the benefits of the European life…,” I started to explain. “Plus, your family has that application for citizenship you’ve been waiting to get approved. And not to mention: the food.”

Jason and his mother, who is 100% 'Pugliese' (though born in the US)
Jason and his mother, who is 100% ‘Pugliese’ (though born in the US)

“Europe does seem like a more civilized place,” J said.

“Just think,” I added, “windy, stone streets. Cheeses you can’t get anywhere else on Earth. Fresh pasta, centuries-old architecture….”

“I could agree to that.”

After rounds of Internet searches, pros and cons lists, and endless discussions about making the move, there was no turning back. Our decision was made. Pretty soon, every scrap of energy went into transitioning our lives to another country. Another continent. Another life.

A street in Strasbourg, France
A street in Strasbourg, France

But I am a pragmatist. Between rounds of packing boxes and bags I kept reminding J, “It’s not gonna’ be a panacea, ya’ know.”

“I know.”

“We’re going to hate it sometimes, we’re going to want to run screaming for all the obstacles we’ll encounter.”

“I know, I know.”

“Ones we can’t even begin to imagine,” I said, my sing-songy tone grinding into him.

“Are you trying to talk me out of it?” he asked.

“No — just making sure you understand. Things quickly become ‘everyday life’,” I explained. “The romanticism will wear off.”

Oh, how those words would ring true, over and over. Oh, how little I would listen even to my own prudent advice.

Yet despite being aware of how hard this move was going to be, we forged forward, selling our possessions in a blowout garage sale, packing what remained into storage and saying  goodbye to our friends and family. In theory, we never looked back…in theory.

Our Garage Sale in Seattle
Our Garage Sale in Seattle

At least not for a couple of months.

Be sure to check out the second installment of Seattle To Italy In One Not-So-Fell Swoop (Part 2) to read about how our plans fell through, inspiring the decision to live in Italy.

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