So, like thousands of other people, we heard about the Facebook post from the mayor of tiny little Bormida in Liguria, Italy – the guy who offered people about two thousand bucks to move to his picturesque town to revive its dwindling population. Unfortunately, the two thousand bucks are no longer on the table, but the offer did spark a conversation.
Because Robbie grew up in Germany, he has always wanted to go back. When we were first dating and talking about getting married, we always assumed we’d live part of our lives in Europe, just like he did. But for one reason and another, we never have.
First, we stayed because of our growing family, with a new baby just about every two years. Then we stayed because of the school we ran and the obligations and restrictions that came with running it. And even after our business changed, our kids were bonding with friends and getting jobs and winding themselves tighter and tighter into this community here. And at least for me, even traveling with 6 kids overseas seemed like it would cost a fortune, let alone moving somewhere. I didn’t want to think about it.
But I’m thinking about it now, and not just to chase two thousand bucks.
It feels like our ties to Franklin are loosening. We’re not going to church here. Our two oldest kids, the ones with the deepest roots here, are in the process of leaving home. We’re running a business that’s done almost entirely online. We sold our house and started renting a few years ago. We’re taking a break from some not-so-great family influences. If there was ever a time for us to leave, it seems to be now.
And I feel like I want to slow down in a way I can’t do here. I keep watching movies over and over again with characters that start over, movies like Chef and Interstellar and A Good Year. I resonate with articles like the one with the lady who moved her kids to Ecuador.
And I keep thinking of a video I first saw on Facebook about lobster shells. A rabbi explains that lobsters can’t grow inside their shells. When it’s time for them to grow, they get out of their shells. They hide while a new shell grows, one that has some extra room.
I don’t know if moving overseas is the right move for us right now. We’ll be here at least another year while our oldest kids get settled. But leaving the US is a conversation that Robbie and I are having for the first time in a long time. That feels significant, and therefore more of a possibility.
Maybe if we get out of our lobster shells and into Liguria, we’ll be able to learn something that makes us larger and more able to slow down and live like we want. Maybe when we come back, we’ll see life here in a different way.