Crunchy alert: level - high
I cannot believe it's been three years since my friend Robyn dropped me off at LAX with five bags of luggage.
While I had spent time in Rome, did extensive research and prepared myself for outrageous red tape, I had never lived outside America.
I was not in my early 20s or 30s. I was moving to a new country, had to learn a new language and moving thousands of miles away from my family and friends.
I didn't know what would become of me in Italy. I did know I didn't like who I was becoming as I hit my ten year anniversary in Los Angeles. Going to Toronto to work on our film TRAITOR made it clear to me I had to make a very drastic change in my life.
Once the film wrapped in Toronto, I decided to take the leap without a safety net.
During the last three years, my life has changed in ways I never imagined. I wouldn't have written the JUMPING THE BROOM spec if I didn't move. I wouldn't have this sense of being home, of peace, of feeling like I'm no longer observing my life but actually in it, had I not moved here.
I wouldn't have met my incredible friends, who I get see regardless of our hectic work schedules. My married friends and/or friends with children still have time for me here. Single woman without children are not cast out to sea in Italy.
Nobody here schedules dinner or drinks three weeks in advance like we had to in L.A. I tried to do that when I first arrived. That habit died quickly.
When you ask people how are they are, they tell you. They don't say, "busy", then run through a list of all their work projects to prove they are busier than you because they are a more important producer, exec, whatever.
Rome took me by surprise. I never expected to fall in love with this crazy city. When I was a teenager, I thought I would live in London or Paris one day.
During that first trip to Rome, six years ago this month, I assumed the effect the city was having on me was because of what was going on (or not going on) in my life back in L.A. I went to Rome after the production company I worked for shut down. I had been to European cities before, London, Paris, Amsterdam, etc. I wasn't an Italofile.
The next year I returned for a longer stay, renting an apartment in Trastevere. I had to see what this Rome thing was all about. This time I had a job.
Didn't matter. I had an even stronger reaction to Rome and Italy in general. On that trip I also traveled outside of Rome.
"Rome was a poem pressed into service as a city." Anatole Broyard.
I think about the Broyard quote often.
Us expats may complain about the random strikes (of course, there's a big transit one today), the bizarro Bunga-Bunga politics and the bureaucracy. But like Broyard said Rome was "pressed" into being a city.
Of course things are not as organized as they are in America. If they were, Italy would be perfect and no place is. The key is to find a place that is right for your priorities.
During that second trip to Rome I listened to Seu Jorge's CRU CD constantly. He's a Brazilian actor/singer. If you saw CITY OF GOD he played Knockout Ned and in LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZIZZOU (which was shot in Rome) he was the sailor who sang all the David Bowie covers in Portuguese.
It wasn't until a few months after my trip, that I saw the video for the song "Tive Razao". This is one of favorite tracks off the CD.
Where was the video filmed? In Rome, in Piazza delle Chiesa Nuova, near where I live now. Nice cameos by Willem Dafoe and Bill Murray.
This song (VIDEO HERE) always reminds of that trip. During those weeks I said to my friend, another producer who was in Rome at the same, I was going to move to Rome. I planned to do it when I was older, maybe in my 50s. I'm glad I didn't wait.
The apartment I rented belong to an actor friend of a friend. The owner was on set in Naples so his girlfriend, Valentina, showed me the apartment.
Four years later I moved to Rome. My first week here, my friend G. invited me to come with him and his girlfriend to a party thrown by a production company celebrating the release of their movie NON PENSARCI.
A few minutes after we arrive, who do I see? Valentina. She said, "Welcome back." G. was incredulous. Not sure how she remembered me after only a short meeting four years earlier.