The question that every ex-pat is asked daily in Florence. The 'cliche' answer for a woman my age, is that I am here for love. And that is true for me, also but not in the classic 'boy meets girl' way. I am here because of my love affair with Florence.
The story: I have always dreamt of living in Europe. Jacqueline Kennedy was who I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to ride in a fox hunt, study at the Sorbonne, speak 10 languages, wear the 'important' designers while doing important charity work....in general, I wanted to be an elegant, educated, important international socialite. Although I did study French for a semester at Tufts U in Boston (fitting to a Jackie 'wannabe') , I strayed from this path and by my junior year, instead of studying abroad, I was a hippie, living in a commune in Berkeley, CA.
Fast foward many years,(and many exciting life adventures later...but this is a blog, not a biography) to my 50th birthday, and I realized that I had accomplished or experienced every dream, everything that was really important to me, I had done. Of course, not every passing fantasy...I hadn't become a doctor and found the cure for cancer, or ended hunger, or married Paul McCartney (he was my favorite Beatle), or been a movie star, or had my own private jet. But the intentions that 'stayed' with me over time. of travelling to Africa and India and China, of being married to my lifetime love, the profound experience of being a mother, writer of books, founder of charities.....run marathons, worked as a consultant all over the world...always were fulfilled! And it was my 50th birthday, and I was depressed, and truly, I had no problem with my age, I was depressed because something that had been on my 'to do list' for 35 years, my 'year abroad', still hadn't happened!! Four years later, I finally got here.
At the time, I was a management consultant working with a company called, Breakthrough International Group, we had many multi-national corporations as clients, so I travelled extensively. I decided that I would move my base to Florence and continue my work. My husband, Tony, was not very enrolled in the program. We were living in Santa Fe, NM, he worked as a financial consultant there, he is an outdoor enthusiast, who had never had a dream of living abroad, much less, a crowded, polluted city, where he didn't know how to mail a letter, much less find a job. But we both realized, that I had to go. I couldn't and didn't want to talk him into going. When he said, he wasn't coming, I told him, I'd miss him. I wasn't leaving him, and I promised him that I would make our relationship work, even if he didn't come.
Most of our friends in Santa Fe thought I was wrong....bad, mean, selfish, etc. I didn't defend myself, I just knew that I had to do it. I also knew (and so did my daughter, Montana...who was 15 at the time, and part of the 'fantasy' was her having the experience of living in Italy), that Tony would be coming. And we were right, on August 28, 2004, we moved into our house near Piazzale Michelangelo.
Tony decided he would take a sabbatical from work, I would continue my job, and Montana was attending the International School of Florence, and our son Jordan, who was 20, entered his freshman year in college in Vermont.
But....'the best laid plans'......