Thursday, February 18, 2010

Life before Italy

Dear Rowan,
I had a real career before we moved to Italy in 2005. I was a newspaper reporter. I majored in journalism in college and I always thought that I'd spend the rest of my life making my living as a writer.
My job was hectic and stressful, but I was good at it and it gave me a lot of satisfaction. I had a lot of friends at work -- people who I lunched with every day and drank with on the weekends. We celebrated every little victory together and we became something like a family.
And, of course, we had many friends from the base. Your dad had lived in Sumter S.C. for more than six years when we got married. I told my family he was like Norm on Cheers because whenever we'd walk into a restaurant or a bar or even Wal-Mart, we could often hear his nickname "Chubbs" repeated over and over. He had friends everywhere we went.
And, since my hometown was less than two hours away, we spent many weenkends with my family and never missed a holiday with them. Your grandparents visited often and it was truly a very blessed time in our lives -- we had the best of both worlds.
Our life was full and busy and that's the way I liked it. I rarely thought of you back then because I was happy with the way things were. We still felt more like newlyweds back then than old married folks. When people would ask, if or when we were going to have children, I'd sometimes tell them we didn't want kids. That way, they'd never ask again and I didn't have to explain any further.
And, at that point, I didn't feel any pressure to have children right away. I was focused on my work and my friends and when I felt the need to nurture, I could borrow any number of children from our friends. They were happy to oblige me, leaving thier babies in my care for the night or the weekend so they could finally get a break.
Our lives revolved around work, friends, family and softball (your Dad played year round in several different leagues). It was a good life and maybe we didn't really realize just how good back then. We were anxious to get out of there. Why? I'm not certain I remember now. Your father had lived in Italy for three years in the early 90s and he wanted one last overseas tour before he retired. He wanted to show me the world, and to me -- a girl who had never even been in an airplane until our honeymoon -- that seemed like an offer I couldn't turn down.
So, when the orders to Italy came in, we celebrated and we began to make some plans. We decided that since jobs for spouses were scarce over there, we'd throw out the birth control pills and try our luck at having a baby. And, that's just what we did.
Only, it didn't work out the way we had hoped and soon we were on this long and winding road of infertility.
And, in the mean time, I looked for a way to put my skills to work at our new home but found the only jobs available to spouses weren't very appealing. So I became a substitute teacher. I blogged about our life in Italy for family and friends and wrote the occasional article for a magazine pulished by my previous employer. And, I waited for the day when we could announce to family and friends that we were expecting.
And, here I am five years later, working part-time in retail and pining over the days when I had a real job. The bottom fell out of the newspaper business while we were away. My resume has a big gaping hole in it and I find I'm just not willing to work horrible hours for very little pay, as is the case in most every newsroom.
I do miss my old career, probably more for the sense of identity it gave me than anything else. In America, our self worth is closely tied to our occupation. But, I'm probably a healthier person for not being under the constant stress of the deadline.
So, one day, when you are all grown up, I will tell you all my best stories about the years I spent as a reporter and my life before Italy.


  1. Krista- What an interesting life you have read! And I can tell you are a wonderful writer, and it must be such a loss to not be able to continue to do that now. I can relate especially to what you said here:

    "I do miss my old career, probably more for the sense of identity it gave me than anything else. In America, our self worth is closely tied to our occupation."

    I feel that this is very true. I feel like I'd throw my career in a heartbeat though, to have children! So very weird and very complicated. I just wrote about some of my career things the other day.

    I guess John Lennon is right, life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans.

    I hope someday we have our children and won't want it any other way. It's hard to be stuck though in a place where you both yearn for tomorrow and yesterday.

    Good luck to you-

  2. Jess -- actually, my post was sort of inspired by your post about your career. Thanks for the kind comments!