So I guess I'll start where the story really starts, and go back to the earlier stuff later. I was featured on here, and that story was about how and when I made the decision to chuck up everything I knew and leave for a better life.
I had some money saved (but not a lot), no plan, no language skills, and no idea what I was doing.
It was the best time of my life, certainly not the worst. The worst was all the years up to this, when I didn't know who I was or what I stood for- if anything. Nothing? Who knew. There was no MaggieJ in there. It was plain old boring Margaret who'd never say no to anyone for anything.
So there I was sitting in the airport. I had crushed my cell phone, left my husband and quit my job. I had bought a ticket from Atlanta after selling my beloved Fiat, and to my name had 3 suitcases of things.
Three suitcases after twenty years of marriage? I didn't even bring any of my wedding photos. Some of my childhood things but not much. I can't describe the feeling. I was scared witless; I was worried, but I also felt free. It was exhilarating.
The aftershocks of my leaving weren't really felt by me. More gossip in the neighborhood. My husband was humiliated (so I've been told. I never spoke to him again except through lawyers). He went around whining to everyone about how I'd left him and taken everything (I took nothing but my own clothes and jewelry), and then later how much he missed me. I guess he could see I wasn't the anti-Christ only after I was gone! He flaunted his affairs in front of me for years, telling me I was too fat or too stupid or not ambitious enough in life. Every time I tried to start something on my own like writing or a class, he made me feel like I would eventually fail. And eventually I did, because deep down inside I believed him. I thought for a long time if I could be prettier, thinner, smarter that I would keep him.
I still don't know what made me snap that day. I think it was seeing my turkey neck in the mirror - honest to God! When you get older that skin doesn't hang very nicely any more and flaps like a turkey neck. I had once been pretty - where had my looks gone? Was this my life? Trapped in a loveless marriage? A boss who took advantage of my inability to say no even if he asked for stuff late at night to be ready the next morning? Oh Margaret will do it; she always does.
When I first got to Italy, was appalled and scared. I went to the tourisimo informacion booth and asked them how I could rent an apartment. They were really helpful and got me a small apartment I could rent by the month.
I took a taxi there (that was an experience of itself - I thought "Great, I leave my entire life and family and come to Italy just to die in some taxicab!" But I got there safe and they were expecting me. The spoke very little English and I could say "pasta" and "marinara sauce" and that was about it. The family helped me get situated and became my surrogate guides.
The first day I sat down to a plate of steaming fussoli and white clam sauce with fresh olive oil drizzled over my hot bread, I was hooked. I knew where I was going to stay. Now, how to do it?...