Dear C & T:
You are sleeping on our flight home, our 13-month adventure having come to an end. We hope this blog provides you with many fun moments, revisiting where we’ve been and what we’ve experienced. And although these 90+ posts are mostly about the highlights and the times we were thriving, we will all remember this year equally for simply getting through the tough times.
So, while we are sure to post a few reflections about our return in the coming days/weeks, for now it's worth taking a moment to capture a few of the "life lessons" that are now part of your life experience. Plus, we are incredibly proud of the ways in which you have flourished and grown over the year. (For the friends and family also reading this blog, thanks for indulging us in this post to our girls, and for tolerating a bit of unrestrained parental gushing that is likely to follow!)
- Leaving Portland last summer was traumatic and tearful, and none of our promises about life in Genoa offered any comfort. Flash-forward a year, to our long layover in Charles de Gaulle airport this week, and you are both fantasizing about a quick afternoon round-trip flight to Genoa (before our evening flight to the US): just so we can see friends, enjoy the city, and maybe get some fresh-from-the-oven Genovese focaccia!
- You not only made friends, you also made yourselves fully part of the community at school. This wasn't easy: remember the many weepy nights in the first few months of school? Or, the many challenging situations with shouting teachers or rebellious kids in your classrooms? But, you did it.
- Living without a car, in a city with minimal (although adequate) public transportation. Hopefully we can maintain the fitness level nurtured by all the walking, climbing of stairs and hiking up steep salitas.
- Learning to live with (or perhaps just tolerate) all of the changes in food. Who would have ever thought children could utter the phrase, "Nooooo, pasta and pizza again?!"
- Also adjusting to all of the cultural changes, including developing a new appreciation for the relative efficiency and ease of our life at home. We will never again complain about a 15 minute wait in line!
- You can share a car backseat, a bedroom, and often even a bed without killing each other. Of course the precisely measured and monitored "borders" helped to keep the peace! Yet you've proven your ability to get along with each other with less space, and also with less stuff.
- In fact, you can do fine with a couple dozen items of clothing in total (and even without a clothes dryer). That’s even more impressive when in Italy, since every corner offers the temptation of that next great pair of shoes, fashionable shirt, or high-heeled leather boots. That last one hopefully won't happen until you're 18'ish anyway! :-)
- And, you overcame perhaps the biggest hurdle of all by learning a new language, so quickly. Meanwhile, dad's Italian is still mostly limited to comparing your remarkable spugna (sponge) brains to his vecchio (old) gray matter!
In all of these ways (and many more), you are bravissime! You have proven yourselves courageous and capable in ways both surprising and wonderful. We also hope this experience deepens your reserves of adaptability and resilience, to tap into whenever life hands you challenges. And mostly, even if this year wasn't always la dolce vita, we hope all of us will remember this time as part of the bella vita we are fortunate to enjoy together.
Vi vogliamo bene!