Part Five – America
I moved away from home in 2006, when I was 21; a fairly common age for an American to head out into the great big world all alone.
I should mention, however, that I didn’t actually move very far: a three-minute drive and I was parked in front of my parent’s house again. The trip from my brother’s house to my parent’s house sure was quick!
Big bro had invited me to live with him and his wife while I went to college, and I jumped on the opportunity to have a bit of freedom. I still don’t know why he decided to propose the idea. I paid rent and contributed to the bills, of course, but as I sit and write, I find myself wondering what urged him to invite me there in the first place.
(Note to self: ask big bro why he invited you to live with him.)
From 2006 until I moved permanently to Italy in 2011, though, I can’t tell you how many times I ended up back at the parent’s house.
My international adventures and world travels allowed me to test out my wings and shape me into the adult that I have become. Can’t say that I always succeeded during said adventures, but I sure wasn’t afraid to try.
My failures brought me right back to the nest I’d flown out of, and being the great folks that they are, my parents welcomed me back every single time.
In 2010, knowing that I couldn’t keep going back and forth to Italy without earning any money, I ended up back home for the umpteenth time where I would stay put for a while so I could find a job.
Back To Work
If and when possible, never burn your bridges, friends. I have found that my dedication to honesty with employers has helped me out on more than one occasion, especially since they already appreciated the strong work ethic that was instilled in me as a young child. When you grow up shoveling horse crap and lugging hail bails, you learn the value of a good, honest day’s work.
You may remember that I mentioned working as a parking lot attendant in part four, and because I didn’t know where else to look for employment after returning from Italy this time, I called up my old boss.
I let him know right away that even though I was back in town, I would eventually be heading to Italy again. I just didn’t know when.
He was a great guy and when I asked him if he had any opportunities open, he was happy to hire me back.
“When can I start?” I asked.
“Yesterday,” he replied.
Driving a shuttle in the middle of winter for the first time was…interesting.
There was a ridiculous amount of snow that winter and I had to hop out of the shuttle bus on more than one occasion in order to dig a path to the customer’s car.
All this snow had Francesco worried, as well, since he had purchased a plane ticket and would be spending Christmas with my family and me.
As Christmas drew near, my anticipation to see Francesco grew daily.
This was not only his first time setting foot on U.S. soil, but it would also be the first time that he met my family in person. There was a lot to look forward to.
I was excited to show him around my hometown, show him off to friends and introduce him to something other than “New York City” or “Los Angeles.”
So often when we travel, our main destinations are the biggest, most famous cities. Francesco would be visiting me in Washington; the evergreen state. Land of mountains, rolling farmland and tons of snow in the winter (sometimes). My hometown is about two and a half hours from the Canadian border, so understandably, our winters are usually white.
The day finally came for Francesco to arrive.
I drove out to the airport (no, I was not in the shuttle bus) and picked him up. He was so jet lagged!
I remember bringing him home and my mom came crashing down the stairs in excitement in order to give him a great big hug.
I had made some squash soup for him, which he ate as he slowly adjusted to having English flying at him from every angle. I can’t remember if my dad was already in bed by then of if he also met him that evening (dad, refresh my memory).
The “Benvenuto Francesco” itinerary had a little bit of everything on it: a hockey game, feeding the ducks along the river, a horse drawn carriage ride, a winter BBQ (which he was quite interested to take part in) and a trip to Seattle.
It was so good to have him with me again and, of course, he was a huge hit with the family.
Meeting the family for any guy is a big deal, so I was obviously wondering if he would be making his intentions known on this trip.
The fact that I couldn’t figure this out bothered me, so, I decided to recruit some help: big bro.
As I mentioned, I lived with my brother for a short while in college and we’ve always had a special relationship.
Plus, my brother is “big” in every sense of the word. He is TALL and muscular; probably intimidating to those who don’t know him. He is one of the most easy-going guys I know, though, and I’d trust him with anything.
I told him not to be shy with Francesco and that I needed some help finding out what his plans for “us” where.
“Try to find out anything you can!” I pleaded.
I was kind enough to organize an outing for Francesco with all of the men of my family. A sort of “payback” dinner, if you will.
When I had arrived in Italy from South Korea in 2009, Francesco’s dad was away on a business trip. He came back after I had already been in Italy for a few weeks, so I was nervous to meet him.
Once I met him, I realized I had nothing to be worried about, but still, I was in their house and they had no clue who I was.
Francesco must have had something organized one evening because I remember that I was left alone at his parent’s house with both of them and I didn’t speak much Italian.
They took me out to pizza where I told them (to the best of my abilities) why I had left Korea and a little bit about myself.
Talk about pressure! Of course, they didn’t make me feel at all unwelcome. I’m sure they just wanted to understand who this mysterious girl was that blew in out of nowhere and was all of a sudden dating their son.
So, getting back to the payback dinner: I wanted to plop Francesco down in the middle of all the menfolk in my family so they could bombard him with questions and get to know him better, too.
Big bro, dad and both brothers-in-law all joined Francesco for a dinner out on the town.
In addition to this dinner, I also left him at home with my parents one evening where he would prepare an Italian meal for them (I had to work).
Any guesses what he prepared for them?
I swear, if there were ever any doubts that the man would win over my family, they melted away as soon as the pasta hit the fork.
It wasn’t a surprise that they loved him just as much as I did, but I just wasn’t sure how much longer I was supposed to continue going back and forth between the U.S. and Italy.
My brother didn’t get any info out of him. How could he, when he barely even knew the guy?
After a few days in Seattle and then a trip back home to say goodbye to my family, it was time for Francesco to head back to Italy.
We knew that things were serious, but nothing had been set in stone after his visit.
That meant that the next few months would be crucial for us since we would have to decide how we would move forward.
He boarded the plane back to Italy and I headed back to grandma’s house.
I would just have to wait patiently for Francesco to make the next move, and believe me, it wasn’t easy.
(continue reading part 6 here…)
So many details to share with you and so little free time to write!
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