We’ve been back for a while now


Look, I have found my way back to the bloggersphere and things have changed a little in the few months I have been away. That kind of sums up the whole reason for me poking my head back in for a visit. Now that we have been back in Sydney for a few months, and are settling into the Australian way of life (which is a lot faster), seeing old friends and adjusting to living in a big city again, my attention has been drawn to a few things I really miss about our year in Italy.

Of course this is to be expected. However, what surprises me most is the feeling you get when you arrive home and for about a month you feel a little off kilter then someone says, ‘Does it feel like you were ever away?’ If I am honest, I really do have to stop and think about it…’did I really just spend a year in Florence?’

I know I did because I am finding things quite a bit different here, for example…

I learned to appreciate the beautiful flavour of the Negroni while living in Florence and I used to drink them at the bar they originated from. In Italy there is no measuring out exact quantities of alcohol and here in lies my problem. Nic and I went out for a drink to our local watering hole the other week and I decided I wanted a Negroni. In my head I was thinking I was getting one of these…

Italian Negroni

Italian Negroni

When in fact what I got was a glass full to the brim of ice with just a hint of red colour floating around. I really missed Italian bar culture on that occasion.

We went to the shops to buy ingredients for a pizza a few weeks ago, we had everything covered until we thought about the cheese. Gone are the days of buying three fresh, soft, delicious mozzarella balls for a couple of bucks. Instead you have the choice of one large (not really that large to be honest) rubber-looking ball pretending to be mozzarella that will set you back about $7.50 or a bag of pre-grated yellow cheese…pizza Aussie style, I dreamed of PizzaMan that night.

Anyway, it isn’t all bad. As I was heading out the door for an early morning run last week I did remember the rolling hills of Tuscany, passing by the odd vineyard on my run and thinking life didn’t get better than this…

Rolling hills of Tuscany

Rolling hills of Tuscany

However, I must have forgotten how beautiful Sydney is. As I was coming up over the second hill on my run, turning right to go under the beginning of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and then trotting down the steps next to Luna Park, I pulled my head up to take in the beautiful Harbour view and thought to myself…not bad at all!

My morning view in Sydney

My morning view in Sydney

Italy the Baker family does miss you; however, I think you’d love it here… Just b.y.o cheese and booze! 

Italy and me

It’s the beginning of October, which means we have been in Italy for three months. In this time we have had a wonderful holiday in Rome, moved to a small house in the foot hills of Florence, the boys have been home schooled in English, they then started Italian school, we have walked at least 80 km and counting, and we’ve even gone on a couple of day trips in the country. I think it is fair to say we have jammed quite a bit into the past couple of months and I thought I needed to give an honest account on how life is right now….something for me to look back on.

Whenever we decide to move countries, and we’ve done it a few times (Australia-Chicago-Italy-Chicago-West Virginia-Chicago-Sydney-Italy) I get all excited about the fabulous idea of the move and the excitement about eating new foods, walking new streets and meeting new people. Yet every time I move, once I’ve actually done the hideous flight, I feel the weight of reality on my shoulders and think ‘Shit, what have I done….again!??’

The reality hit was masked this time because it’s the first time we have taken a family holiday before moving into our new life and I really like this approach. We eat more gelato, drink more wine and relax on holidays so what’s there not to love? However, once we strip away the fun times and get down to the reality of everyday living, this is when you start to wonder why the hell you made this decision in the first place and secondly why the hell didn’t you study more Italian before you arrived!!

As daily life progresses, Nic goes to work, kids go to school (Italian) and I go……nowhere, that’s when I start to think about what am I doing, where am I going? The house work is done, I’ve walked a few km to do the shopping and yet I still have half a day to fill. Back at home, in the comfort of my own language and environment I had it all sorted out: this was going to be my year to do something new, find a new interest, maybe even change careers and do as many foodie things as I can….live the dream!

Three months into my ‘dream’ I have had more anxiety attacks that you can poke a stick at and I have asked myself more questions about me than anyone really needs or wants too! You see my WORKING life back home was full on: it was chaotic, busy, not enough hours in the day to do everything and yet what I now realise is that I have nothing in my day except what I do for my family to keep us ticking along. Don’t get me wrong this is important but what is more important for a healthy mind is not losing who you are and what you do in the world and I kind of feel that is what I have done.

Daily I have a freak out about not being good at Italian and feel everyone is judging my progress. I’ve taken classes, I have apps on my phone to teach me and the daily emersion with school and shops etc but I am pathetic at keeping it in my brain, it goes in and then straight out again. I’m starting to think I am not built for this, by the time the year is up I’ll be one step up from basic beginners!

The question is, what am I going to do about my anxiety? I can’t go through life letting it control me, especially not this year.

I’m actually sick of feeling hopeless and useless so I have decided to find some volunteer work around the city, surely some organisation can put my skills to good use?? Another choice I have made is to stop drinking coffee (not happy Jan!) until I feel more like myself again (insomnia is a bitch!). Coffee is a stimulant and I have noticed when I drink coffee it increases the chances of a freak out. Much to Nic’s disgust I haven’t had coffee for 5 days and I also haven’t had any major anxiety like I did the previous weeks. I’m not saying this is the cure but it sure makes me feel better and I don’t feel like my nerves are on high alert……a week ago was a dark place and not somewhere I intend to stay.

This week I feel good, I have finally talked about how I have been feeling with Nic and some friends instead of keeping it all within and trying to be strong (this doesn’t work….you just feel like you’re going mad!) and it has made a difference to me. There is nothing wrong with me, I just need a purpose for being here, something for me to offer or give back to the community and when I find it, living in Italy is going to become the reality I want it to be for me. Who knew working myself into a stupor all these years was the only thing keeping me together? I just thought I had bad management skills!