Sunday, April 26, 2009

Straddling two continents.


Right now my husband is in Nova Scotia for a week, and I am home here in Italy by myself. Home is the subject of this meander. Where shall it be?
We will soon be heading into our retirement years, and it will be time to decide where we are to live. God willing, we hope to see those years through on our own vineyard, and maybe working in our own winery. My husband is spending a week on a vineyard in Nova Scotia, something that would have been impossible to find 20 years ago. There has been a growing momentum in the wine industry in Nova Scotia over the last 10 years and we are excited that we can entertain the idea of fulfilling our passions in so familiar a place. Nova Scotia was home to us and our 3 sons for over 10 years. But will it still be home in ten years time, or will Italy feel like home? That is our dilemma. We want to get started on the vineyard idea, but we don't know where to buy. All my adult life I have wanted, dreamed and schemed of living in Italy. Now, here I am. In fact, I am even a card carrying Italian citizen. Italian vineyards are the stuff of romance, and that I am doubtful about wanting to own one seems absurd, even to my family members back home.

It's as though we are straddling two continents right now, a sort of Colossus of Rhodes, but instead of straddling the harbor, we straddle the vast Atlantic ocean. That's a difficult pose for anyone to hold for any length of time. We will have to choose. The straddling metaphor is one that suits our lives right now as we strive to build a bridge from our youth to our retirement years: just as we get used to living our lives as a couple again, we are reminded that we are still parents when our kids are home from university; we are both Canadians but have a deep connection to our European roots; we are neither young nor old, we live here, but wonder whether we should be thinking of living there.

I think there are two plaguing thoughts that confuse us and assault us every time we think we are ready to make a commitment. The crux of our dilemma is the idea of growing old away from our extended family and the other is where will our children want and best be able to visit us. Will choosing one continent over the other have any bearing on their visits to us? Will it be the familiarity of where they grew up that they will want to have? Will my extended family be drawn by the lure of the warm southern Italian winters, or will they see it as being too far and costly? Do I really want to live through 6 months of Canadian winter when I am elderly? When I ask my family these questions, they of course can't give me an answer. The answers are nowhere to be found, but in the future that is left to be played out.

We realize the seriousness of our investment. It could mean that if we had to pick up and sell for whatever reason, a vineyard and winery may not be an easy sell either here or there. We have to be sure. Will we play it safe and move back to Canada? Will we move into riskier territory, and buy that Italian country property, that I see in my dreams?

In one week's time, my husband will be home with our youngest son. We will have learned a little more about what it means to own a vineyard and be a vintner in Canada. We will go back to being parents again for the next four months, and so we will probably put our decision on hold until the fall, when once again, alone as a couple with the itch to get started on a dream and straddling two continents become a difficult pose to hold.

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