"You will leave everything that you love most dearly. That is the arrow that the bow of exile shoots first." - Dante's Paradiso
When I left Chicago back in 2006 I wrote how it felt like a bit of an exile; a “need to get out of here for a while.” For fifteen years I ran around the Midwest with an eye to the East, which I considered home. It wasn’t until that wheels up moment that I realized the city of Chicago had graciously adopted me over time, I just never noticed it or stopped to say thank you. I knew I’d go back once the school year was over but regretted leaving just the same.
Two years later and I’m walking familiar territory. I’ve just said goodbye to those three you see in the picture. They - and many others who came out to give me the sendoff of a lifetime last night - mean so much to me. You’ve never seen such a supportive cheering section in your life.
I’m excited for this. I cannot believe I get to go live and study in Italy. When I was wrapping up in Jamaica I feared that that might be the only experience I would ever have living abroad. This will be a great sequel. I began some rudimentary Italian lessons back in May, all from audio CDs, and I’ve been looking at places in Europe (and elsewhere) I’d like to visit. I’ve made many of the same arrangements I made when I left in 2006 vis-a-vis storage, mail, financial reach back, etc. Never underestimate the value of a good support network.
However, part of me really doesn’t want to go. I concede some of that is just plain fear: of a foreign country, of language barriers, of an ability to make friends in an environment I’ve not been around in a decade, etc. Some of this is sadness: I knew I’d return to Chicago after a year in Jamaica but I’m fairly certain this new wrinkle in my adventure is going to keep me away for a much longer time. But I suppose that’s the price of knowing the answer to the original question: is there a higher and better use of me and if so, what is it?
When I was mulling the beginning of this whole experiment back in 2005, a friend asked me, “If you woke up tomorrow knowing the answer to that question, and all of the good and bad that goes with it, would you still go out and do it?”
Ay, there’s the rub. You have to jump to find your wings.
I touch down in Italy in about twelve hours. Avanti!