Well, here we are. Tyler, Fox and I moved back to America almost exactly a month ago and wow, it's been a whirlwind. The last three months – with the birth of our first child, to packing up the home we'd known for 4 years and moving across the world back to our hometown — has been a lot. Someday, we'll be able to laugh while telling our airport story that involved Tyler definitely getting peed all over by our anxious cat, Teddy, after TSA made him remove the cat from his carrier in security. But right now, it's still anxiety-inducing. Tyler left the military in February and is currently looking for work, so we're living with my mom at the moment while we sort out our lives and figure out our next step. To say we've been humbled has been an understatement.
Moving back to Kansas City has come with lots of ups and downs. I hadn't realized how much we'd missed our family until we returned — and I mean that by how much we missed being around them and how much we weren't there for. It's been amazing to be surrounded by them again, on both sides of our families, but also awesome realizing that every meet-up with grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins doesn't have to be this whole once-in-two-years meeting, but something we could do again a few weeks from now.
On the downside, I also went from having an amazing group of friends, steady work and a close network of ride-or-dies in Vicenza to having to start from scratch again on the friend front. Tyler keeps teasing me because people would recognize me in Italy from this here website ("Oh, you're Katie Currid! I love your blog!") but now I'm back to living with my mom. I'm trying to do that dreaded ~friend search~ and realizing that I'm now a mom and not every cool hipster 25-year old wants to be friends with a lady with a baby. I'm probably being a little hard on myself there, but when I didn't have a baby I didn't want mom friends, either! That is, until I made mom friends, who I loved so very dearly and learned so much from.
So yeah, here we are, back in our hometown, starting our lives again with our little baby Fox. We're not sure ~at all~ what's next for us. We're not sure what neighborhood we want to live in or whether we want to buy or build a home or whether Tyler should look for full-time work or start school in the fall. And I'm not sure if I want to jump into freelancing or try my hand at food photography or do the commercial family portraiture thing or, gosh, all 3. I'll be doing mostly part-time work for the time being since being a Fox Mom is a full-time thing, though — so maybe that's good that I know one thing?
Anyway, here we are – back in America. Livin' the dream — in my mom's basement. Here are some reflections on our first month back in re-adjusting to our home country.
THINGS I'LL MISS FROM ITALY:
- The sound of the church bells every hour, no matter what town you're in
- The smell of fresh brioche while you're walking on the square in the early morning
- Watching all the Italians take a "passeggiata," or a leisurely walk, after work and before dinner
- Looking at all the impeccably dressed elderly Italians in their Sunday best — especially the older couples, where you can't decide whether the wife or the husband looks better!
- Fresh, seasonal, cheap produce bought in bulk right off the side of the road. Man, I used to dream about cherry season where I could get a huge crate of cherries for 5€!
- The cheap, cheap, cheap travel — like plane tickets for under $50 or being within a 3-hour drive to 5 other countries with incredibly different terrain and culture (and food!)
- Their love of babies. I loved how they would fuss over Fox and call him little Italian names when we were just walking about. I still have a few Italian women who What's App me and ask for photos!
- How like every other building is hundreds of years old and how they truly care about their history
MORE THINGS I'LL MISS FROM ITALY:
- The lack of chain stores and that there's no "slow food" or "locally grown" movement because that's the norm. Freshly made pasta was the standard and having seasonal ingredients in a restaurant was just a thing.
- How well they took care of their gardens and lawns
- How incredibly in shape the elderly were. Our neighbors were into their late 60s and 70s and I would regularly see them doing yard work, to include sweeping the sidewalk.
- Being totally in awe of walking down a street or the piazza and how incredibly beautiful and historic everything was, no matter how many times I had been there before
- How "artisan" was just the standard, and buying things from local craftsman was just how it was, like the local coppersmith who hand hammered all of my pots and pans
- The incredible relationships I built with huge language barriers, like with our elderly neighbor Ennio, who would always wear sunglasses, a fedora and smoke a cigar in our yard and call me beautiful as I walked to my car. Or our mechanic, Massimo, who would work for next to nothing and refuse tips, so the locals built him a tab at the local bar. Or my seamstress, Lory, who still messages me and asks how we're adjusting in America, but really just wants photos of Fox.
- The gelato. The pizza. The pasta. The wine. The coffee.
THINGS I WON'T MISS ABOUT ITALY:
- Needing to leave the house by 8 a.m. to get everything done because everyone closed for lunch from 12-3 and sometimes even before then because posted hours are merely a suggestion
- Being paranoid about driving anywhere because of the insane driving or how roads were sometimes basically dirt sidewalks or unposted ZTLs
- The complete lack of ethnic food or any food that wasn't pizza or pasta
- Having to completely pre-plan every errand around days and hours things were open, because if you need something after 8 p.m. on a Saturday, you're just going to have to wait until Tuesday.
- Being so far from our families and missing so many events in their lives and realizing how much time has really passed since we were home.
MUSINGS FROM OUR FIRST MONTH IN AMERICA:
- I get why everyone is fat now. Since we've been back, we've eaten out so much — mostly because it's conveinient. Like, if we have a craving at 4 p.m. for something, we go to that place and we eat that thing and we most likely don't have to leave our vehicle to get it. In Italy, if we wanted to eat out, it had to be between 12-2:30 or 7:30-10 (and sorry, but I'm starving by 6), and if we wanted take out, we'd have to go pick it up or wait 2 hours for it to be delievered, or go eat in a restaurant and have a 3-course, 2-hour meal. So yeah, eating at home was usually simpler.
- Everything is so loud. Why is there music everywhere? Like, does my bathroom trip need a soundtrack? No, it does not.
- Everyone is SO DAMN NICE. Tyler's job search has come up casually in small talk with strangers and they always like, try to think of places where he can work? It's so cute and sweet. Everyone is so helpful and kind and anxious to assist!
- We feel like we were transplanted from like, 1990 into the future. There are so many cool tech things going on in America — like wifi everywhere, and apps so you don't have to wait in line at restaurants, and seriously guys, apps for everything. We're loving catching up on all the ~cool new things~ going on, but also kind of feel like octogenarians at times.
- I've never felt so nervous about safety in my life. I never thought about guns in Italy, and here, I'm constant nervous some psycho is going to let loose in the cell phone store, or go off on a road rage rampage. I don't have a lot of opinions about guns or gun control, but re-adjusting to their much more visible presence has been more difficult than I expected.
- I love how easy everything is. When I need something, I drive to the store to get it, or I order it on Amazon and it's at my home in two days. And that store is usually open. And the mail is delivered on Sundays.
- Midwestern Americans are terrible about recycling. Our parents' neighborhoods don't even fully have recycling programs — Tyler's parents' place doesn't recycle at all and my parents' places don't recycle glass. Why?! Reasons. This is probably my biggest gripe about America — I can't believe the trash culture here.
- There is so much trash everywhere. Like, just trash on the side of the road. Everywhere.
- When did the beer get so good? I don't think I drank more than like 10 beers in the last 4 years, and I've definitely exceeded that in the mont I've been home. Maybe because I'm avoiding wine a bit, though.
- There are no sidewalks. We were in a historic downtown area the other day and like two blocks outside of the shopping center, there were no sidewalks. Everything is so massive and so spread out.
- Target. TJ Maxx. Trader Joe's. Hy-Vee.
- I've traded historic charm for ~cool~ joints and 60-year old artisans for 25-year old hipsters. There are so many just neat businesses around, and people are doing really cool things. Some of it may be hipster nonsense, but it makes me hope that some things in America will be preserved for the next generation to enjoy.
Photos and text © Katie Currid, 2018. All rights reserved.