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On Being Rootless in Italy

I wrote this several months ago for Medium. I'm starting to find my roots here!

I’ve been thinking a lot about roots lately.

Inevitably, when I meet a local here in Calabria, which I moved to six months ago, they assume I have Calabrian roots.

No, I tell them.

Well, you’re Italian though, right?

Again, no.

I moved here because I fell deeply in love with this country, its culture, and of course, its food.

To them, I have no roots. And maybe to me as well.

What Does It Mean to Have Roots?

I’ve been asking myself this a lot lately. Roots don’t have to necessarily refer to family, though that’s where most of ours begin.

For me, I grew up not physically close to most of my family, so being in a culture where men live with their parents until they get married and where many families get together every Sunday for a meal is foreign to me. But appealing.

I’ve lived in nine cities and three countries in my life. In a sense, I’ve always adjusted to the fact that, if I did put roots down in a place, it wasn’t for long.

To me, having roots is feeling connected to and a part of a community. In Kensington, the quaint little San Diego neighborhood I lived in for the past 10 years, I had roots. I knew so many people. I was involved in the local business association and community events.

Without that here in Italy, I am feeling adrift.

All You Need is Soil, Sun, and Water

I’m not sure the town I’m living in this first year will be the one I stay in permanently, and that fact makes me restless. I long to find a town that fits perfectly, as well as a house that feels like a home I can live in for the foreseeable future.

For a while, the fact of my rootlessness really frustrated me. But now I’m setting the intention to be patient and nurture myself. After all, a plant digs deep into the soil when it has the right environment: soil, sun, and water.

Living steps away from the sea is nurturing my soul in many ways. And I’m making more and more friends as time passes. They’re introducing me to delightful gems in Calabria that I never would have found on my own.

I’m finding places I’d like to volunteer at or get more involved with, which is a great step toward finding my community.

And so, I admit that I see tiny little green shoots springing from my bare feet. I can be patient. After all, roots are what keep us grounded for a lifetime.

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