Thursday, November 07, 2013

The terrible waiting period
 I came to Lucca thinking that we could be a hundred percent fluent in Italian within a year, that we would be welcomed by people, especially those at the middle school, because it is universally known that New Yorkers are cool and that we would not have to worry about money or making friends. F was stripped of his impressive NY job via Internet fairly soon thereafter. And then like a load of bricks it hit me that my daughter was going to hate middle school even more than middle schoolers around the planet hate middle school because everyone and their zia Maria was going to set out to make it more difficult for her --from the unrealistic professors to the ungenerous classmates and to her own diabetically wired chromosomes that I unknowingly passed to her. The only thing worse than my middle school years were not being able to protect her from hers, but her story is much more triumphant.

If you had told me that three years later I would still be constantly embarrassed about my communication skills in Italian and scrambling to make a buck, it would not have dissuaded me from making the big jump out of New York. I fall into the category of the secret optimist. We are the least annoying kind because we state the fewest platitudes and only smile when we mean it. I didn't have any idea how humid or unfriendly Lucca was when I picked it. I didn't know how boring it would be to shop at the same handful of good stores or to be limited by the same handful of in-season vegetables. That said, moving here was the best choice I ever made in my life aside from marrying my husband and having my daughter. It just isn't what I expected. I expect a lot. A lot as in frequently and in huge quantities. Sometimes my expectations are smaller, though, than the possibilities that I didn't have the vision to imagine in the first place.

My husband the web designer spends his days teaching the present simple and continuous to one after another Italian who has confidence issues about learning English. He loves it. I always wanted to be a dancer, but I know my limits. I suck at picking up choreography and I don't have good feet and I am not flexible. Given that, I still have my moments of glory, but now I am almost 44. I thought teaching exercise would be very satisfying and it was, but it was also hard to perform in another language and the disadvantages of working on a big stage started to outweight the advantages. I will miss being seen in that way, but I knew it couldn't go on forever. Even if the fancy gym hadn't been a terrible and oppressive place despite the array of beautiful people who took my classes, I don't think I could have kept up the pace for more than another year or two. About two dozen clients have written me on FB and have called me over the past few days. Most of them don't want private classes because the allure of being a fancy gym client in combination with the fact that they have already paid for the year is preventing them. I think I have done more Tracy Anderson than Tracy Anderson has done Tracy Anderson.

Now what I want is to live a little more deeply but in smaller doses. I want to go out of the house more and interact with people more and I want to have a better Italian accent and I really, really want not to have to wear foundation makeup on my face. Skin colored cream grosses me out. To that end, I went back to the German Barbie and had my face blasted with lasers. I just don't want to have the scars or the necessity to cover them anymore. I look at the moment like someone who fell down the stairs. I still have to teach to classes at home today and I have to do it without makeup, but this is the first step towards my new life. Maybe with a little luck and my crazy skin care regime that I invented to defeat cystic acne, I can do it by Christmas time. Even though I will probably always be the lady who comes away with a handful of foundation samples from those sneaky cashiers at Sephora who think that I just can't take a hint, I think it will be liberating.

My new theory, which is of course born from the fact that I am a newly unemployed person, is that it is a waste of money to buy clothes and shoes and accessories if you are not really loving your body, your face and your hair. The whole point of being at peace with your superficial self is to let your real self shine through it without holding back. Holding back to me is like mistaking salt for sugar in your chocolate chip cookie recipe. The salt is important too, but if you don't pay attention, you can eat a lot of regrets.

It would be awesome if I could get people to leap into speaking English because they feel comfortable with me and they know that I keep leaping with my Italian, making tons of mistakes every single day.  This is a really scary time. I have never gotten anywhere good without facing down a really scary time so -- fingers crossed.

No comments: