How I Came To Hate Italy
I sat in various coffee shops pounding into my computer on most days. I drank entirely too much on most nights. My career was nonexistent; my life had come to a strange pivotal point. So I did what any semi-drunk person might do: Sat down and wrote a bucket list. I love lists. Most people have a bucket list, except for maybe coal miners, they probably just have a bucket and black lung. On my list I had:
1) Learn another language more or less fluently.
2) Live abroad.
3) Learn how to paint
4) Be a better cook (or at least stop setting the oven on fire all the time).
5) Write everyday.
It was a list that I thought would make me a better person and enrich my life. I'd been to Europe on vacation and knew that I could complete my list in Florence, Italy. I found a post-bach program a week later at a school called SACI. I was accepted shortly after and made plans to leave Utah in search of the better me. It was August, the program began in September, I was cutting it close. Then family issues arose, my little brother died, and my life took a giant punge into HOLYSHITMYLIFEFUCKINGSUCKSPLEASEGIVEMEALCOHOL, depression and a whirlwind of regret and confusion. I pushed my entrance date back one year and decided to go in September 2009 instead. I was only one year away from a better life. A year of forced self improvement. I wasn't running away, I thought, I was running towards my future. Abroad.
My friends and family had a hard time understanding the move. I was popular, which never made any sense to me because I'm awkward and shy and I pretty much never smile because I'm usually too worried about what to say or not say to let myself relax. Despite being standoffish, people would take an interest in me in spite of myself. I'd sit in a corner of a cafe, my long black hair in a messy, unkept state, my head-to-toe black skinny jeans, American Apparel T-Shirt that I wore lazily without a bra, and black converse. The look screamed, "I'd rather chew off my arm than talk with you," yet, I'd find myself surrounded by people who wanted to talk with me. It's not that I didn't want to talk, it's just that I didn't know how. That was something I wanted to change in Italy. I wanted to force myself to talk to everyone. I would be more social, because being abroad would force me to be more bold. I naively assumed.
I arrived in Florence on my birthday, September 2nd, 2009. I hauled two suitcases the same size as my own body up 3,498,432 stairs of my shared apartment in the San Lorenzo area of Florence that the school had acquired for me. I looked around the empty apartment, the two twin beds flanked by matching white desks. I thought, this is exactly what I wanted. It was perfect for the first six months. My life was exactly what I wanted. I was learning Italian, sort of, or at least I was awkwardly trying but mostly just grunted and pointed enthusiastically in the direction of things I wanted. I spent all day in art classes, painting, drawing uncircumcized penis' from life. I answered questions from undergrads about "what is going on with that dude's willy?" My professors were beautifully insane. I fought and argued with most of them and adored them all the while. I drew tons of vaginas. Art school is the only place in the world where you pay money to stare and sketch genitalia for hours on end.
I met an Italian man in January of 2010 after I'd been in Italy for four months. He was the strangest person I'd ever dated, the most difficult, dramatic and annoying. Everything with him was complicated and I'm not one for romance because I'm a terrible pessimist (my nickname in high school was pessimisty) but somehow I knew I was going to marry him. Even when I wanted to stab out his eyes numerous times every day. In May, after school finished, I didn't feel ready to return to the USA. I still needed more of something and I had this hot boyfriend that I wanted to stab. So, I stayed in Italy with another friend. We started a design company together and rented an apartment outside of the center with my boyfriend and a sweet Canadian girl who also attended SACI.