My friends Stateside keep asking me, "How do you feel?" or "Has your life changed?" Yes to the latter and I will write about that some other time. Regarding how do I feel? It's hard to put into words but I remembered something someone said to me earlier.
I had been in Rome for a few months when I was talking to E. an American expat who has lived here for 6 or 7 years. As a journalist he travels a lot for work but this is his base. He asked me how things were going and said he couldn't believe I was a recent transplant. To him it seemed like I had lived here forever (despite my shaky language skills back then), and was comfortable here.
I thought about what he said. I lived in Los Angeles for over 10 years. It never felt like home.
I was in cab from the airport during my third trip to Rome as a tourist. I had rented an apartment in a quiet section of Trastevere. As I started recognize certain landmarks the we got closer to Trastevere, I thought, "It's good to be home."
I found the following quote from Andrea Lee and what she says definitely has something to do with how I feel here. Our lives couldn't be more different. I'm a broke screenwriter trying to sell my first spec in Hollywood, living in a tiny apartment. She's a critically acclaimed novelist/short story writer, married to an Italian count living in a villa in Torino. I'm first generation American and she comes from a very prominent American family that has been in the United States since slavery. But we're both black Americans living in Italy.
What does it mean to be an African-American writer in Italy?
“It all comes together. In America, especially if you are a person of color, you feel apart from an ideal “American.” You feel a bit foreign. So it felt quite familiar when I came to Italy. Being African-American made me feel more comfortable as an expatriate. I knew what feeling apart meant. Being a writer also means feeling apart, because you have to take a step back to look. So it all ties together: being African-American, being an expatriate, and being an artist.” Andrea Lee
My former co-worker scanned this photo for me. I took it on the last day of my first trip to Rome, April 2005. I didn't know at the time that three years later (to the month) I would uproot my entire life. Best decision I ever made.