Perhaps I have started to speak like a Brit, but that is what they call the end of the School Year at my son’s school, “End of Year”. There seems to be many British-ism we have picked up along the way.
But this post is not about my son or his school. This post is about how blessed I was this year through my son’s school. Moving to a new country and feeling light years away from any sense of normalcy is daunting. I’m loud, I have a strange accent and I have an extremely poor grasp on the language. Each day was filled with overwhelming tasks, that in the United States could have been completed in minutes. I often questioned how I could survive. But that brings me to today, so I guess I did. However, as I have stated before, sometimes survival in Rome takes a village.
One of the biggest things I missed from home was my gym at Club La Maison. It was minutes from home and I would go there after I dropped my son off at school. I knew everyone there and it was a place to exercise and socialize. Leaving there left a big hole in my heart. Not just for my favorite treadmills or classes, but the people as well. I did look for Gyms in Rome, but here is the thing, they all speak Italian there. I felt so weird and out-of-place. My greatest fear was violating some social norm or someone immediately knowing I was the “American Idiot”.
But, I digress onto a better chapter. There was the “Exercise Lady” at school and several other women would go to the park and attend her classes. In retrospect, I would like to apologize to Ioana for calling her that because it sounds like she should be wearing pink tights, a blue onesie and a terry cloth sweatband around her head. Oh, and did I mention “Exercise Lady” also sounds like she has wild curly, mousey blonde hair and bad makeup? Oh, where was I? Yes, so I was able to get a lead on what these classes were as I needed to get myself in a shape. The months we spent trying to get our visa and moving from country to country, hotel to hotel took a toll on me. I got the details and my new morning schedule began.
I was just going to take High Intensity interval Training (HIIT) on Mondays and Fridays, when it was offered. I thought it was great as I would be home after 10! But then there was the invite for coffee, then she added Wednesdays and then a strange thing happened. Have I mentioned that I am not great at making new friends? No, I swear I am not. Well, that is sort of what started to happen. I even started to do Yoga! That was offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Now, I am not perfect, so do not think every week I made all five classes. In fact, I could be seen in the crowd going to coffee right after dropping off the children on days when my body ached or my Italian classes were scheduled earlier, etc . Above all, I loved my new mornings. I felt so blessed to have found a way to exercise in English and to have made a network of friends. My mother had noticed a different tone to my voice and that I seemed much happier and settled in Rome. It was true.
When dealing with Expats, there are Visa issues and work issues. All of these things are beyond our control. As a group, over coffee we would discuss various things and the possibilities of a husband’s job change, etc. We would be happy, when news would come that someone would be staying on. But, waiting to hear what decisions were going to be made for another was not pleasant. I was so sad when our friend from Holland, with three blonde children and they all ride bikes to school, was leaving. I loved hearing her Amsterdam stories and listening to her point of view. I would not be alone if I said I wanted to have a serious “sit down” with her husband on the “pros and cons” of taking her and the children away from us and our children. Let’s be honest, while not safer, Rome has much better bike riding weather than any where in Holland! But, alas, my son will get over his disappointment.
After the previous blow, another one happened and really shook my happy world up. Yeah, I guess my little Normal Rockwell fantasy snow globe could not last forever. After 12 years “Exercise Lady”, okay Ioana at this point, had news for us. After telling us in March that she and her Movie producing husband would remain in Rome, they were packing up their family and heading to California, Santa Monica to be exact. I never hated the Golden State more at that moment. Granted, I was happy for her and her family, but I never said I was unselfish. We all were sad as we realized what a great group and community Ioana had built through her classes.
So, with a heavy heart, Holland and California–you win…