Updated: Sep 8, 2022
I only met my great-grandpa(Battista) a few times. He was a quiet man but always smiling around his great-grandkids. He had a soft spoken energy around him. He never seemed to be unhappy when he was around us.
Years later, after he passed away in 1994, my great Uncle Lorenzo, found and translated my great-grandpa's diary of his life. The diary wasn't very long, but it encapsulated the hard life my bisnonno endured.
What stood out to me is that he never stopped working and trying to make my Nonna (bisnonna) happy every chance he got. Even when he returned to Italy after being a POW in WWII for 7 years, he was dedicated in taking care of his family. He neglected his own desires to support and take care of others.
After years of being neglected by my resentful Nonna, he decided to join my Nana in America. He got a work visa with my Papa's company in the city of Chicago. He worked in America for 12 years, coming home only 2 months each year to visit family. He would send money to my Nonna when he could and my Nonna would spend it all.
As much as he wanted my Nonna to join him in America, he had his doubts it wouldn't work out. His sons were having babies and so he knew he needed to return home eventually.
I read a particular line in his diary that flooded over my body: "I stress it was never my intention to settle in England but to return to my native country as soon as I could provide a better future for us financially."
I felt his presence in the room. His hands on my shoulders.
The yearn has returned. Well, it has never left.
I moved to Italy permanently in 2009. I had no desire to ever move back to Chicago. I knew where I belonged. Right off the bat, I struggled to make ends meet. But I never wanted to leave Florence. As a couple years passed, life became harder and harder being an English teacher. I worked my ass off, like my great-grandpa, for only 10 euro an hour. It was so frustrating and I loved it at the same time.
Then I met Stefano. Now, this isn't a story about how my Italian man saved me, hell f****** NO. Yes, he did make my life easier once I moved in with him, but even that was not something I wanted to do. I was reluctant to move in with him. I thought I'd lose my independence. What if we didn't work out? (We did.)
A year and a half went by and I started to be envious of my American friends who had better paying jobs in Florence. Stefano was struggling with his job. Something had to give.
I reluctantly agreed with Stefano that we should try to make a life in Chicago. I'm grateful we did, and, in hindsight, I wish I gave myself more chances to find a better job. Stefano agreed. He wished he tried to find a better job as well. We never would've left then.
No, I don't believe we made a mistake of moving to the States. Living in my hometown after 7 years, has proved to me that I needed to come back to heal, grow and build my business. There's a reason for everything that happened since moving here. From Stefano being let go, to me reluctantly taking on a job that I now truly love and enjoy. We took small actions in the right direction to get where we are today. And we are both happy for it.
Needless to say, I'm ready to move back. Not tomorrow, not next year, but soon.
(Did I mention patience is not my strong point?)
It's my passion. It's what I wake up thinking about.
Back to my Bisnonno, he is guiding me. I know it. I will make his wish come true and move back to my homeland and live the rest of my life around wine, pasta straight from the makers.
The yearn to return is real. And if the pandemic taught us anything, life is short.
Why spend your life doing, living and being something that isn't authentically you?