The light at the end of the tunnel

The light at the end of the tunnel

Monday, August 27th, 2018

Interestingly enough the phrase above is exactly the same in Italian (la luce alle fine del tunnel) and that’s what I’m now seeing. I’m writing this on August 27 and I get on a plane with a one-way ticket two days from now. Originally I thought that the really hard part was getting the visa for “elective residency” – and it was not easy. The biggest obstacle was getting an apartment and I consider myself lucky in finding an apartment that I like, in a location that I like and getting the whole thing concluded, including two original copies of the lease just a few days before my flight returning to California.

Then came the waves of challenges. I rented my house in July for two years starting the first of September. Originally I had thought to rent it furnished for a year with an option for a second year. As many interested parties viewed the house my realtor told me that nobody wanted to rent a furnished house for a year or more. Major decision point. Perhaps I could put all of my belongings in the garage. No, people wanted use of the garage. Then it became clear that I needed to sell everything. Putting it in a storage space for two years would have cost thousands of dollars and what if it was more than two years or what if I wanted to live elsewhere if and when I returned to the U.S. Finally I found it easy to let go of all of those things. They are, after all, only things. There were no really strong emotional attachments. So I sold everything that I could (which was actually quite a lot), gave away whatever people would take and the rest, on the day of my departure, goes to the dump.

But not everything. This path opened my eyes to the things that I really cared about; art works (not all of them), small things that I have had for so long that I do have an attachment to them and small momentos from travels are waiting for me in a small storage space that I have behind the house. Most of those I can take back with me when I come back for a week or so next summer. Framed pictures that are too large for a suitcase I will take out of the frames, roll them up and put them in tubes that will fit in a suitcase and have them re-framed in Italy.

I still have some challenges ahead, principally getting the “permisso di soggiorno” (permit to stay) in Italy but I think that will not be too difficult. I will also be able to join the Italian national health system which I think will cost me less than medicare and medicare advantage here although perhaps a little more cumbersome.

As I reflect back on the last 3 months and all of the anxious moments I consider how much luck I really have had. Finding the Bologna apartment, getting the visa issued after less than a month, getting good renters, selling my Fiat 500 to a wonderful young woman who loves it, purely by chance having alternative housing for a week when my internet expired at the house, help from friends in Italy to have internet installed at the apartment very shortly after I arrive and the same friend will pick me up at the airport when I arrive. Sometimes things just go right and it’s wonderful when they do.

A friend asked me in an email if I was feeling really emotional or anxious as the final day of departure arrived. No, I’m not anxious now but the last 3 months has been exhilarating and stressful. I replied that I was having almost an out of body experience, like being an astronaut in space looking down at the earth in wonder.  And feeling that I can breath again. That will probably continue for awhile in Italy as I get all of the nuts and bolts of living there nailed down and slip into a normal but different life.

I was trying find a song that kind of fits the occasion. I thought of “Leaving on a jet plane” but I didn’t like the lyric. But the following one is a reasonably apt for the situation.

And tossing in a little bonus, a video of Lucio Dalla. Bolognese born and bred and well loved in Bologna. Maybe you’ll like him too. He was a talented guy who is well known throughout Italy and worked in lots of different genres.

Stay tuned for updates as I embed myself into Bologna.

4 Responses to “The light at the end of the tunnel”

  1. Joy O'Neal Says:

    I am so proud of you for dreaming a new life for yourself, and then acting upon it and making it real! Hoorah for your new life. I look forward to reading about your adventures! You are in my heart! Have a sweet life! Love, Joy

  2. Joe Says:

    Thanks for the compliment and the encouragement. It has been challenging and I’m looking forward to it becoming a bit more routine as I become a Bologna resident. I’ll continue to post about my experiences.


  3. Peter Hillen Says:

    HI Joe,
    A very big move !! Congratulations on pursuing your dream. When we moved to the other Venice (Los Angeles) last year, we got rid of most of our furniture and other belongings. It was quite liberating. Now that we are retired, we have started to travel. In Nov we are going to Ireland and Germany (family roots stuff), but we may some day be having an espresso with you in Bologna.

    Ann and Peter

  4. Joe Says:

    Thanks Peter. It really is amazing how easy it was to let go of things once it was clear that that was the right path. I hope to see you in Bologna one of these days.


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