Welcome back. If you haven’t read the first part, let me fill you in. I am 22, I recently became estranged from my father and I just broke up with the boyfriend who I was madly in love with so I can move to Genoa, Italy, to become an au pair.
Times were good!
By good, I mean petrifying.
I have arrived! My family have picked me up from the train station and after 30 hours in transit, I am in the beautiful and historic port city of Genoa.
I arrive late at night and go straight to sleep. I have my own bedroom and bathroom in this beautiful, top-level apartment and life is good.
When I wake up, I meet the children, who are beautiful and friendly. The family is so lovely and they give me all the tips to get around and explore.
They take me out, show me the city and I feel like I’m finally doing what what I’m supposed to.
I start Italian lessons at a local school and I’m sure that in no time, I will be fluent in the language of love.
I meet the people I will be friends with forever!
These guys were all au pairs and came from Germany and the UK and all sorts of places in Europe. We start travel around Italy on the weekends.
We go to Florence…
and hiking in Portofino…
I was really doing it, it was everything I always dreamed of and I was doing it with the best people!
I smiled and I lived and I drank. I partied in tiny Italian kitchens and learned Italian obscenities.
I’m not proud of this next story but once I got so drunk on warm, red wine, that upon walking home, I threw up down a staircase leading into the basement of a building. These are the things I will never forget about that night:
- For dinner that evening, I had some marinated octopus. Not as tasty on it’s way out.
- Thank God for the sample pads that were being handed out that week at the train station, because that’s what I used to wipe my mouth.
- That was the worst hangover I’d ever had.
They were the best times of my life!
But I was sad. Oh, so sad.
This was the time I learned one very important life lesson.
You cannot run away from your problems.
Turns out, your problems just follow you. Because your problems tend to live inside your head, not in a physical place. Because although I thought left behind everything that was causing me pain, the pain just followed me.
I missed my ex-boyfriend. I was constantly worried about my mother. I was alone and young and scared.
I was drinking and smoking and trying to bury the burning feeling inside me, the pressure on my heart to go back home.
I would sit in a park in the middle of the city and just cry. I cried so much. The ache I felt was physical, it felt like my chest would explode.
I knew I ran away from my problems and I knew that the only way to fix them was to return back home.
I thought about it and thought about it and thought about it. I stopped eating. In my last couple of weeks in Italy, I lost 7kg’s. All I did was smoke and drink. My friends loved me and I loved them, but it wasn’t enough. I felt the worst about the thought of leaving my Italian family, whom I’d grown so close to and who accepted me into their home and their lives.
Enough is enough
But I couldn’t keep this up anymore. I knew it would have been braver to stay. I knew if I just held on for a bit longer, I would have been happy. I knew that I would have learned Italian and met new people and traveled the world like I planned. But I wasn’t strong enough.
So after 9 short weeks, I decide to buy yet another one way ticket, back to Australia. I was so worried about my mother and my mother was so worried about me, that we got together what little cash we had and bought me a ticket to come back within days of me making the decision.
And so I came back. Physically lighter, emotionally exhausted, in a state of shock at all the events that took place. I was sad I left my friends. I was confused about being home.
I didn’t fix things straight away. I didn’t speak with my father for eight long years. The Boyfriend and I got back together but we were unhappy and it was hard for both of us to take back all the hurt that was caused. It took years for us to resolve everything, and we all know that story ends up with a Happily Ever After…
But looking back on it, I know it was the most important time of my life. It was the time that I grabbed life by the balls and made a decision to go out on my own, it was the time I rediscovered who I can be without my boyfriend, without my family, without all the supposed security I always relied on.
And I learned about friendship. About the strength of that bond, not only with my friends back home, who welcomed me back with excitement and didn’t laugh in my face when I returned with my tail between my legs. But also with the new friends who showed me so much love at a time I felt so much hate.
And I learned to face my problems and be honest about them. I learned that the longer problems are ignored, the more ferocity they will foster.
The Moral of the Story
- Don’t run away from your problems, they follow you.
- Don’t buy a one way ticket to Europe unless you are SUPER sure that you won’t be needing a one way ticket back within 9 weeks.
- Always keep some spare pads in your bag for emergencies.
- Don’t be afraid to make the tough decisions. You may learn Italian, you may not, but you will never look back and regret hiking in Portofino.
I loved my time in Italy. I loved every experience it gained me. I learned so much about me and the people around me and the travel system of the world. And although there are some things I would have done differently, the fact is that I didn’t and I can’t change that now.
I can only hope that in the sliding-doors-alternate-reality, that Billi stayed in Italy, learned Italian, traveled Europe for longer than 12 months, met loads of new people and came back to the same result, but an easier path. Because I wouldn’t change a thing about my life. I would just like to know a little bit more Italian.
Thanks for tuning in and travel safe!