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The Decision

As seen on The Huffington Post.

June 2012

I needed some coffee….in a big way. It was 6:15 a.m., and I was waiting outside my hotel in Rome for a taxi that would take me to the airport. A two-week dream vacation was over, and I was heading back home to Salt Lake City. Two doors down was a coffee shop, not yet open, but the door was unlocked, and I asked if I could come in.

CappuccinoAs I waited for my coffee, I breathed in the brewing espresso and the baking pastries. I listened to the lilt of Italian coming from the back kitchen.

And then, I started to cry.

Not a pretty, watery-eyed, few tears sort of cry, but a full-throttle-sob.

And in that moment, I made a decision. A life-changing, momentous decision.

I would come back to Italy, and soon, but not on another vacation. I would come back to live in Italy, and whatever hold it had on me could fully run its course. It had taunted me twice in the past two years, with its olive tree vistas, wineries, rolling green hills and sumptuous art and food.

I’d felt something here I hadn’t felt in a very long time, JOY! And I wanted to feel more of it.

Now, let’s agree on something here. There’s no logical reason for a middle-aged woman, of Danish ancestry, born and raised in Utah, to think she belongs in Italy. There is no logical reason for a woman to sell her home, turn over her business, leave her students, lifelong friends and family to start a new life, alone.

All I can say is that the heart knows what the heart wants. And this heart wanted some joy, before it was too late.

This trip had begun two weeks before as a cruise out of Italy, through Greece and Turkey, then back to Rome. It was supposed to have been a wildly romantic birthday celebration for my partner and me. He and I had been on a trip to Italy in 2011, and we called it our favorite place on earth.

But as the trip neared, our weekly arguments had reached their grand finale, ultimately leaving me with two tickets for a cruise (that I had paid for), and one broken heart.

I knew how Delta felt about my need to change plans (not to mention my broken heart), and reading the small print on the cruise documents told me the same news. This close to departure, my money would be gone if I canceled.

That’s how it came to be that my daughter was my cabin partner for the romantic cruise and, eventually, my biggest supporter in moving to Italy. It’s always beautiful to look back on how things unfold and realize the perfection of it all.

The trip was over now. And here I was in a coffee shop, sobbing, waiting for the taxi that would take us to the airport, and then back to Salt Lake City.

“Segnora, il suo caffé. Segnora?”

“Uh, grazie,” I said through my tears, taking my coffee, a little uncomfortable with the scene I’d created.

The Taxi HomeAs I stepped onto Via del Viminale, the taxi driver was loading our luggage in the trunk. (That’s him on the left there.)

I watched the sun brilliantly streaming through the tall buildings and reflecting off of the white marble of the Opera House. My daughter looked at my face as I sat down beside her.

“You OK?” she said.

“Yeah, I am,” I told her. “I’m coming back here. To live.”

I looked straight ahead, not daring to see her reaction.

Once the plane landed in Utah, there were a thousand decisions to make. But I was a woman on a mission. I had a goal. I had things to do! And, if my plan went as scheduled, I only had three months to get everything done.

At least fifty times a day, one of those things was just repeat to myself, “I’m going to Italy. To LIVE!” It was even better if I said it in front of a mirror.

It was at this point that I began to learn the first of many new life lessons.

#1 Not everyone was going to be equally thrilled about my new adventure.

Most were mildly surprised, fairly supportive, but some were downright dream-squashers. They pointed out things like I didn’t speak Italian and I didn’t know a single person there. They wanted to know where I would spend Thanksgiving, and what my children thought. And, of course, the reoccurring theme that I had, yet again, not been able to keep a relationship going with a man. I did my best to push those thoughts away, and concentrated on the job at hand.

There were a few people, that totally embraced my choice to go. I could see it in their eyes.

Most of them older. All of them women.

They understood the longing in a heart that has given to others for so many years. They knew how small the window of time can be for us to act on a dream. One woman I hardly knew sent a bracelet to me, with the inscription, “Woman of Courage”.

I still wear it, everyday.

#2 Keep the big picture in mind, and let the small stuff go.

I simply refused to entertain the notion that I couldn’t sell my house, and most everything in it, quickly and easily. That was the intention I had placed in the Universe, and that’s the intention I was holding to. It just meant that on a daily basis, I had to let go of something else. Whether it was a couch, a set of beloved dishes, or full asking price for my house.

I had to surrender to a bigger picture. (May I just add that I am 37 pairs of designer shoes lighter. That was painful.)

#3 Go with the flow.

Most days were a whirlwind of decisions. While some were big decisions, it was the sheer volume of decisions that had my head spinning. So many variables were unknown to me. How long I would need a storage unit? Where did I want my apartment to be in Italy? Who would be the best replacement for me in the Step Aerobics class? It went on and on.

I began every morning with a calming meditation, and I believe that taught me how to make the decisions with efficiency.

I would focus on the decision, ask my inner guidance for clarification, visualize how it fit with my end result in mind, and BAM, decision made. After that, I’d watch the results. If doors opened, plans presented themselves and people appeared, I knew I was headed in the right direction. If it felt like I was pushing a boulder upstream, rather than going with the flow, I knew I had to change plans.

October 2, 2012, I boarded Delta flight #89 to Florence, Italy via Paris.

Behind me was a house that had sold and closed in 6 weeks, a storage unit that held the earthly possessions I couldn’t part with, students that had cheered me on, lifelong friends, and my son and daughter.

Airplane WindowAhead of me….unknown.

And all of that was just fine until Delta flight #89 was about 3 hours over the Atlantic Ocean. There weren’t any tears this time, just a sinking feeling that began at the base of my stomach, and moved to my throat.

Oh my God, what have I done?

Author: Lisa Condie

This article is part of a summer series by Lisa Condie. Click here to find out what happens to Lisa when she lands in Italy.


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