This post from January 28, 2007 from my old private blog, “Starting Fresh. From Joisey to Rome” still leaves me with a lump in my throat six years later.

Today after bringing Michael to his bus at Termini for Ciampino Airport, I was left standing there waving to him and him back at me through the bus window. Soon our view became obscured by his bus pulling away and another one slowly backing up in front of me. I was left standing there on the street on a cheerfully bright and sunny day with a lump in my throat and no knowledge of when I’d see my husband again. We had just one full day together this weekend.

Michael’s “informal meeting” with the UN yesterday went just as well as it could have. He was basically offered a job on the spot. A job in Rome, just 3 train stops from our apartment. Every dollar he would save the Finance Department at the World Food Programme would literally be used to feed five people in the developing world. What other kind of finance job could give you such intrinsic satisfaction? Of course then came the catches. It’d be a 3 month consultancy. There would be no guarantee of a permanent post to follow, though it’d be extremely likely he could continue with them, or another branch. He could literally have a thirty year career with the UN if he wanted. However, we were told that people with UN posts in Rome could get transferred a year or two later and then again and again to anywhere in the world. The interviewer has been living in Rome with his family for a few years, lived in Iraq in 2003 just before the war, and before that in Lebanon. His wife and kids just follow along.

I’m not adverse to suddenly being told, “OK. Time to move to Cambodia.” It’s exciting and adventurous. I could set up programs or schools of my own and help the world’s neediest people. In a way it’d be like my childhood dream job, being a National Geographic Photographer. The reason I never pursued that dream and the reason my intuition says no to a career with the UN (Michael or me) is that those types of jobs are best for single people with no kids. I’d personally rather pick a spot on the planet that I love, then use it as a base to travel or volunteer in less fortunate parts of the world. Well, one good thing though is that this gives us at least another option and may be a good possible short term job solution. The interviewer basically told Michael to call him even if it was many months from now. It doesn’t hurt to have a safety net and new contacts.

Tomorrow Michael has his job interview in Basel, Switzerland. This company supposedly has a Rome office, but there’s no guarantee that that’s where Michael might be sent. His interview with an Italian company is in about two weeks in New York. This is so far our best option. I won’t get into details, but the position would be the best and they have offices in Milano, Parma, and Rome.

So as Michael’s bus pulled away I turned and walked back into Termini Station. We were here yesterday as well and actually saw some poor woman get robbed as her and a friend had coffees at a table. The woman ran after the female thief shouting “ladra! ladra!” (thief). Then she caught up with the snatcher, and suddenly turned around and came back inside. We don’t know if maybe whatever was stolen wasn’t that valuable or if the women somehow felt threatened. Violence and weapons of any kind are extremely rare in Rome. No police were in sight either. The Termini police have these fancy Segway scooters and were probably off somewhere else in the station popping wheelies or showing off for the ladies.

Later we met up with Umberto and some of his friends at our favorite vegetarian restaurant, Arancia Blu. We had an excellent time, and I think my Italian has never had such a high point. I understood 90% of what was going on and could communicate most of what I wanted to say. There were a few moments when I got self-conscious and had a few brain freezes, but overall it was my best Italian day ever. Even the discerning Umberto praised my efforts. It’s really coming. See? Old dogs CAN learn new tricks.

Today I plan to make baked ziti for the first time. I find that life is better when I am reading and using my cookbooks. It’s somewhat therapeutic. My lemon risotto I gave to colleagues last week got rave reviews and it makes me want to experiment even more. One colleague says that my food is making him want to turn vegetarian and that I am brainwashing his taste buds. I’m not trying to convert anyone, but it is fun to dispel the stereotype that meatless food is made of yucky tofu and soggy beans.

Tomorrow I begin teaching my new classes. I feel nervous, but what always happens is that I feel perfectly fine once the first words come out of my mouth. I ran into a few students yesterday when Michael and I started our day at the AUR BBQ. At least this semester I have the benefit of having some familiar and friendly faces in my classes.