It is amazing what can take place in a year. The Red Sox can win the World Series. The USDA can lift a 50 year ban finally allowing Italian cured meats in the country. Dear friends get married. Babies are expected. Jobs change and sometimes so do boyfriends. In one year you can completely change your life, make wonderful new friends, and challenge yourself in ways you never knew you could…well a least I did.
Last year at this time I was anxiously waiting to find out if I was accepted in a masters program at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy. My love and I had decided I should just apply, what is the harm in applying? There I was awake at 6:00am looking at the email from the program wondering if my number would be there. When I saw it, and my brain finally processed it, I gently nudged Kevin (Ok I shook him) “I got in”. The response was a sleepy but enthusiastic, “Yeah” followed by a not so enthusiastic “shit”. We both knew I was going, we would be a part for a year, I would quit my job, say goodbye to a dual income, I would move to Italy and he would man the fort. My husband never once said “don’t go”. He just supported me, encouraged me in my moments of fear and pondered about the adventures that lay ahead. Honestly, without his encouragement it would have been easy to stay home. I, of course, left last March and joined 23 other students.
For the past 9months, the 24 of us did everything together. We attended 6 hours of class every day. We traveled throughout Italy, to Portugal and to Denmark. We supported each other through bouts of homesickness and challenged each other to be better. We questioned, read and grew. Throughout it all, we became a family. Today we say goodbye.
Some of us will return after our internships in March to defend a thesis. Others we will hopefully visit in their respective homes. Tomorrow I am sure will be filled with tears and for some, denial. Tonight, though, we celebrate. We celebrate the courage, and the bit of crazy, it took to leave everything behind. We laugh at the awkward moments that ensue when you live somewhere new (like the time you miss the clothes line and drop your underwear onto your landlady’s terrace, only to have her place it on the banister for the week you are away on stage). We relive the best meals and moments we shared. We share our dreams of the future. We toast to the knowledge we acquired about food systems, quality products, and food identity. Tonight, is all about one year. Tomorrow, we can worry about the next one.