133 days today. That’s how long it’s been since we arrived to start our new life in Venice, Italy together.
Everyday, we walk the streets of this amazing city, getting to know the different neighborhoods, exploring new shops, markets, and restaurants, all steeped in the rich, ancient history of this unique city. Everyday, by the time we’ve returned home, it feels like we’ve made a new friend (or three), and fallen more in love with each other, our chosen path in life, and the beautiful Lady Venezia, who has welcomed us with open arms, a sweet smile,
and a plate of warm risotto.
The first two months were very challenging, to put it mildly. The third month was easier, balancing focused intensity with deliberate relaxation. Now, almost halfway through our fourth month, we are, as cliche’ as this sounds, starting to find our groove, our place, in this life we’ve chosen for ourselves. Right now, as I write this, there is a pair of musicians in the square below our window, one playing the dobro while the other is on guitar, both skilfully serenading all within earshot- Travelers, residents, passers-by, and us. We are happy, excited, relaxed, and overcome with gratitude and optimism. Life is beautiful. Reaching this point, however, was no easy task.
By the end of September, we felt like we were caught in a whirlwind, twisting and turning in every direction-
Securing the apartment in Venice, which included a translator, endless emails, phone calls, all while dealing with a nine hour time difference.
Checking, rechecking, and processing all of the immigration paperwork needed to establish residency.
Picking the right moving company, resulting from countless reviews, questions, phone calls, house walk throughs, negotiations and comprises, considering the fact that this is by far the biggest, most complicated, and most expensive move we have ever and will ever make.
Going through every possession in the house and garage (both full) and deciding what goes and what stays.
Having garage sales and then making multiple trips to donation centers to get rid of whatever didn’t sell.
Organizing everything that we’re taking with us to have it all ready for the movers to pack (by hiring the movers to do the packing, we transferred responsibility of our contents to them, making the customs clearance process go MUCH easier).
Hiring a pet relocation service, and then handling all of the endless documents, certificates, and other paperwork involved in getting our pets safely moved from one country to another, 6500 miles away.
Trying to get done whatever we could from the states to have our business as ready as possible to open soon after arriving in Venice.
Oh, did I mention that we also did major renovations on our house DURING THE SAME TIME?! We decided that we would rent out our home instead of selling, but before we did, we wanted to make it was more appealing and long-term problem free. To do that required four major upgrades.
“They” say that moving is one of the most stressful things in life. The same is said for remodeling a house while living in it. Now. Combine those. Add the twist of relocating internationally, a new culture, a new language and the depletion of a huge chunk of your life savings to that… Feel that tightness in your chest, the lump in your throat, the swimming in your head? So did we.
So, on top of everything else, within the last three months before moving, we-
Completely redesigned and landscaped our front yard, including a new irrigation system, a combination of about forty plants, bushes, and trees, and the installation of over 2000 bricks.
Repainted the entire inside and outside of the house (thank you Dean and John!).
Rewired the whole property, which included three separate structures, upgrading from 100 to 200 amp service, adding two sub panels, replacing a main panel, 1500 feet of wire and sixty feet of trenches.
Installed brand new central air conditioning and heating throughout the house.
While Maya slaved away at the daunting aforementioned list, I did a lot of the renovations myself, having spent fifteen years in construction. It took me a week and a half to jackhammer up the old driveway and put down brick. It took one a/c guy and me a week for the heating and air. It took almost three weeks for the electrical, if you include all the patchwork and repairs i needed to do after the two electricians working with me were done butchering the walls (wouldn’t use them again!). It took just under a week of 14-17 hour days for my cousin and his friend, two professional painting contractors, to complete all the custom texturing, bodywork, and paint we needed. Finally, it took a solid week to landscape the front yard, with the help of a very good friend (Thank you, Adam B.!).
It came down to this. Maya completed everything on her checklist, with days to spare. As for me, I was finishing up projects at 3pm. We left for the airport at 4pm! Having made peace with what was accomplished, and what was left to be hired out, we took one last walk through the house, a house I spent 13 1/2 years in, and said our final goodbyes to Long Beach, CA.
Like I said, it wasn’t easy. But here we are. Four and half months into our new life here in Venice, and it keeps getting better. Lately, I’ve noticed that It’s finally starting to sink in- WE LIVE HERE! Holy Crap! It’s real! With every walk around this beautiful city, with every new friend made, every new opportunity presenting itself to us, we breathe a little deeper, smile a little bigger. It was the hardest thing we ever did, both individually and as a couple. And it was worth the rewards, more than we could have ever imagined.
Until next time,