Moving to Another Country Alone? Was I Crazy?
How a Bold Solo Move Led Me to A Place Called Grace
It was 1995 and I recently celebrated my 38th birthday when I moved to Italy. I was frankly terrified, since I was moving to another country alone. But on what was perhaps an even deeper, more meaningful level, I was more afraid of the inertia and sadness in my life and acting career up to that point. Just nine months previously I had gone hiking in Italy with a group of fellow hiking enthusiasts from all over the world, and on that trip had fallen madly in love with the country.
The acting career I had envisioned for myself, after a short time as a junior copywriter in the ad business, had resulted in about 50 non-union commercials. However, I was never able to break into SAG or the Screen Actors Guild. I had hoped that one of my agents would be able to slip me into a SAG casting call but that was a rarity. My marriage had ended in a difficult divorce, and the man I had been seeing for some time decided he did not want any more children (I did) so, despondently, I broke up with him.
Initially, my mother with whom I was extremely close, did not understand why I would want to move to Rome–or move to any other country where I knew no one and didn’t even speak the language. Why would I leave my perfectly good life here in NY? I explained to her that I was unhappy in New York and needed to have this adventure. I believed a fresh start in a remarkable country like Italy–the food, the wine, the scenery–the MEN–would, lift not only my spirits but would perhaps give me the feeling I was lacking in NY: a sense of belonging. I did not know anyone in Italy, but had been given the name of a famous theatrical producer, the ex-husband of a friend of my Aunt. I was told he would do whatever he could to be helpful. Perhaps my “Americanism” would make me stand out in a way it never could in the states.
I was not going abroad as an ex-patriot: In fact, I told myself that I might just stay in Rome for three months, as my adventure. If things went well I could apply for permanent status–of course having zero idea how difficult acquiring all the needed permesso’s would be. And by “went well” I mean the ideal scenario: get great parts as an actress, meet a hunky Italian, and have his baby. I mean–my eggs were not getting any younger.
I still had to learn to speak Italian. I set about that immediately–right after I moved into the Residenza di Ripetta, a wonderful residential hotel in the center of the city, and signed on with an agent. As I was learning the language, getting comfortable with my new surroundings, and waiting for my new agent to contact me for auditions, I did meet my first ‘Italian hunk.” He was the first of several short-lived romances, all of which I have candidly detailed in my new memoir, A Place Called Grace.
Shutting down my life in New York and setting up the foundation of a possible new life in Italy was not anything like the “she got a man” ending in the book and movie Eat, Pray Love, or Diane Lane’s similar happy ending as part of a couple in Under the Tuscan Sun. After three years in Italy–moving six different times, dating more than seven different men, along with too few acting auditions, let alone actual gigs–and a terrifying accident to boot–I returned home.
That’s when I found Grace. I am not going to tell you about that here: my book is on Amazon. You can even “Look Inside” and see if you can figure this out for yourself.
Bottom line, “non rimpiango niente,” I regret nothing. My return to this country was not in any way a defeat, as moving to another country alone and living abroad was a great experience and it led me to a new life–again, it’s all in my memoir. I hope you will take the time to read A Place Called Grace, and that so doing might move you towards a “graceful”–and grateful–place of your own!
I highly recommend Alison’s book…..this blog is just a peek inside all the adventures and misadventures she had in Rome.
I had my own chance to leave NYC and have a different life….it would have been Sweden, and a married life with a gorgeous Swede I had been living with in NY. He was returning to Sweden, and wanted me to come with him, start a new life, and a family. Unlike Alison, I never took that fork in the road. I have wondered off and on since what it would have been like had I done so.