“Do not cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”-Dr. Seuss
Yesterday, I walked out of the building for the last time as a teacher. Saying goodbyes to colleagues I wouldn’t see this summer, I eventually choked up on my way out the door, overwhelmed that I was leaving my favorite job, my favorite apartment, and my beautiful home in Europe, walking distance to the sea.
This was a dream I had for many, many years – probably since I took my first trip to Europe in 1997: Paris, the Riviera and Rome. The tour also included Florence and Assisi — and I realized I loved Europe, loved the way I felt in Europe, and wanted more. I studied abroad in England in 2001. I backpacked alone for the first time that summer. I came back the following summer for more. I kept coming back. I remember telling a close friend,”When I close my eyes, I see Europe. It’s all I want.” I dreamed, and schemed, and then in January 2012 I accepted my job, in a story as told here when I celebrated 6 months in Europe. I almost chickened out, but I knew in my gut it was the right step, a necessary check on my timeline. And when it was time to decide whether to stay in this beautiful, peaceful, comfortable life or move on to my next adventures, I waffled and struggled, but for many reasons, I knew that it was time for NY. Maybe not forever, maybe just for a year or two, but for some reason, it’s time to be in NY. When confronted with the easy path or the hard one, I know I will grow from the challenging path. As weird as it sounds, the challenge at this point is to move home. I have enjoyed every moment of my time here, and rather than stay and resent certain things or wonder what if, I am leaving at my peak of enjoyment, preserving the memory. But before I tie the bow on this experience, I have a Grand European Farewell Tour!
I remember my New York Grand Farewell Tour. From February until my August departure, I savored every moment of my life in New York, visiting things like a tourist, going out with my friends as much as possible, and realizing how great things were at home. With this new trajectory, I scraped off my barnacles and felt revitalized and full of energy. Of course, none of this was easy. The emotions of leaving my job, friends, family, car and familiarity; the bureaucratic paperwork that took until just days before I hopped onto my plane–my friends wondering if I’d even be able to go when I was at my farewell party; packing my apartment for storage and shipping some belongings overseas; completing the days of paperwork and office visits upon arrival; figuring out how to get a cell phone and internet, how to ask for things at the grocery store, how to call a taxi, where to find tacos, where to buy cheddar (not in Italy!), where to get deodorant with antiperspirant; cooking daily; purchasing and riding a scooter; retrieving contacts stuck in customs; changing that strange fluorescent light bulb; getting the guy to get the geckos out of your water heater; getting stuck places because of delays or train strikes; dealing with Italy in general. But it was all worth it, and it was all possible thanks to the kindness of my colleagues and the patience of my friends and family who listened to my homesick gripes as they faded. Genoa became my home.
They say you can’t go home again, so I know I’ll have to reacclimatize to New York City, finding my more relaxed Mediterranean ways might not suit me well in the frenzied city. Yet I will have friends, family, and all the things I’ve been missing. I am setting new goals, treating my time back in NY as possibly temporary, so I need to enjoy it while I can. I want a nice apartment (no downgrades since I love what I have now); I have my leased car and I’m going to get a scooter there as well! I’m going to try out more adventure activities (rock climbing, kayaking, whatever comes my way). I’m going to do more US travel on the weekend. Friends in Cali and Chicago, I’ve never been to Colorado, Skiing in Vermont — so much to see! I’m going out in the city as much as possible mixed with many chill dinners at home with my closest friends. I’m also looking forward to my cats; I’ve been known to Skype them.
The job search from abroad was certainly tricky. I had resigned from the NY City public schools, so I wasn’t guaranteed a job in the system. I had to apply to even be considered as a candidate. Then I had to find the right fit. All through email or skype and with a time difference. Yet it worked out!
I absolutely love where I work now. I’m happy to say that my new school is also an excellent match for me: internationally minded,with coworkers who have worked abroad and/or traveled extensively like me, IB-inspired, semi-selective and serving a community of students who want a rigorous curriculum despite their incoming scores (except for the honors classes–which are selected). I will only be teaching 11th grade plus one elective (currently I teach 8,9,10,11,12). I enjoyed the variety of 5 grades, although it will be nice to just have one preparation so I can focus. I really liked what I saw when I flew in last month for both the school visit and a wedding, Just before I received the official job offer, my boss told me that my job opened up again here. I had agonized over the decision, spent a long time preparing for my job search, and ended up with something special and rare. I knew I couldn’t second guess. I just had to go, so I accepted the offer and am on my way.
A few days here to enjoy the gorgeous weather of June in Genoa. Days at beach, nights at beachside bars, perhaps dancing. Riding my scooter all around. Then next week, I fly to Belgium to visit my friends in Ghent and enjoy a charming canal view hotel room in Bruges. Upon my return, I have some time in Genoa again before Krakow with a friend for 4th of July weekend. I fly back, then that evening, two great friends from NY will be staying with me to explore the region. After they leave, I have a day to pack for my big adventure and pack up my apartment for the big move. I head to Interlaken, Switzerland in the Alps for a charming 2 nights on Lake Brienz, one of my favorite spots in the world. Peaceful reflection, hiking, biking, swimming. . . ahh! Next, I take a train to Constance, Germany where I meet up with my father. We will visit spas, museums, and explore with a car. Next, we take a train to Merano in the Dolomites, for hiking and fresh air, followed by Trieste where we meet a family friend, then a drive to Lake Bled, Slovenia (new country for me!), then to Rimini for a night, a quick peek at San Marino, then finally a couple of nights in the Cinque Terre before my shippers come. Dad and I enjoy a couple of days in Genoa, he leaves, then I have a few final days before back to the USA. It’s been great, and there are great things ahead.
I’m enjoying every moment. Right now, I’m enjoying a lazy day in bed, the door open to my terrace as the sunshine spills in, birds singing sweet melodies that are the soundtrack to my life here along with the occasional scooter. I have the peace and time to reflect. Content. Filled with gratitude. I have been truly blessed.