(In an effort to provide you with a sense of what it felt like to plan for this adventure, with everything we did to prepare ourselves, we have pulled excerpts from Rosemary's hand-written journals from 2004 and 2005, leading up to our departure in 2005. Thanks for reading!)
January 31, 2005
There is still so much to do. Saturday is our "Arrivederci Phoenix" party and we are hoping for a big turnout. The house closes on the 14th and there is still much to do to get ready. We have to pack for Italy and I need more art supplies.
Partly I think we really are crazy! But to be able to be with this man I adore on this incredible journey is such a gift and I stand ready to embark, to set sail from this safe harbor, to dream, discover, explore; to see new things, make new friends and have exciting adventures with open hearts and open minds.
We long to accept what comes next without fear. To be brave and look forward, knowing we have each other and our future spread before us. We want to relax more, take each day as it comes and not worry so much. We want to simplify our lives and focus on the here and now. We want to let go of THINGS and just BE. And hope when we return we will be wiser and have a whole new perspective on life. We want to pursue our art and embrace it, go where it takes us. Life will be full and every day an adventure.
We’re ready to jump.
January 30, 2005
I am a mess. Yesterday was so hard. The new owners came by and we chatted about the house. After they left I cried my eyes out again and I know I need to get over it. I keep telling myself we want to do this. That going to Italy is fantastic and wonderful. Imagine going to Rome just for the day! Or Florence! Or wherever we can get to in a day! We are going to Italy!! How wonderful and exciting and brave we are! What an adventure this is! We are really going to live this dream! We can't wait!! Are we insane??
January 20, 2005
Yard Sale Day. All the discards of our life are here. All the things we will not need and no longer want. It has been difficult deciding what we will keep and what we will throw out or give away. I have spent every morning this week going through my things and making piles. It is a slow process because I have to look at and fondle everything.
January 25, 2005 We have Visas!!
Finally!!! The Visas arrived yesterday! We are so excited! Everyone in my design studio stood around me and I could feel myself shaking all through my body as I tore the FedEx envelope open and there it was, inside our passports - a beautiful sticker/label looking thing called a VISTO with a hologram-type seal on it, very beautiful and it is valid from 2 April 2005 to 1 April 2006!! I was so happy and excited the first thing I did was call Bob to give him the good news! When I got home we hugged each other tight and went out to celebrate.
It's so hard to describe this feeling of sadness at leaving and excitement at what comes next, but every now and then it washes over me and out comes a huge sigh followed by "oh my god" and a sick feeling in my stomach.
January 14, 2005
Getting really excited about this Farewell Tour and all the things we'll see along the way. Life is surreal. Bob is doing most of the packing since I'm still working and he finished the fall semester and is now officially retired from firefighting AND teaching. I'm doing most of the crying. I have to keep reminding myself that I really want to do this and how exciting it all is.
January 11, 2005
We have a buyer! They are offering full price and paying cash! There is both a feeling of relief and of deep sadness. Still not knowing if we will be granted our visa, I feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland falling down the rabbit hole. At this moment we stand between our two lives - the one we know now and the one we are moving into. The house is sold - only the inspection is left and the closing. We are packing like mad and planning the route for our "Farewell Tour of America".
January 8, 2005
Bob returned yesterday from his trip to LA. When he arrived there he found a bulletproof window and a cranky Italian woman who insisted we needed to have actual letters from the banks not the bank statements he had brought with him to prove our worthiness. Bob, wearing a suit jacket and tie, decided he would get further by being respectful and friendly and by the end of the conversation she had warmed up to him and written a nice note on our papers saying that he had driven over to LA and that he could now just send the letters by FAX.
When he called later to follow up and make sure everything was received he was told that he could only call that number at a certain time of day and then when we called at the specified time they were too busy to take his call! When he finally got through he spoke to the same woman he had met there who said she had everything she needed and that she would call if they needed anything else.
So now we are waiting for an answer. We plan to leave on the 1st of April and still don't know if we will be granted the Visa! We feel like we are flying by the seat of our pants and worry that we really WON'T be able to afford it all anyway in spite of how much money we have in the bank.
Someone's coming to look at the house tonight at 8:45. Panic! Everyone says the house will sell quickly. The market is good right now and this neighborhood is desirable (the historic Willo neighborhood of central Phoenix, Arizona). Maybe we should have waited a few years, the prices are on the rise. Maybe in a few months we could sell for even more?? But I can't think like that. Life is short. We have to go and live our dreams while we can because we don't know what tomorrow will bring. Carpe Diem. Seize the day. Go for it. Live simply and live well. We want this adventure and leaving the house is my great trade-off. I know I can't have everything. And the truth is we want to go and live this dream. We’re ready.
January 4, 2005
Cried my eyes out yesterday. The realtors put the "For Sale" sign outside, making the selling of the house a reality now and not just a "plan".
Worse! We got a letter in the mail from the Italian Consulate in LA stating that our paperwork was incomplete and that they needed more financial information. So Bob called them and they said that we might not have enough money to get a Long Term Visa! He told them that in addition to our pension, which is what we plan on living on, that we had other resources in the bank, our investments etc., but that still didn't seem to be enough.
We are totally speechless! It never occurred to us that we didn't have enough money! We’ve said all along that we expected to be "living cheap", that we were doing this on a shoestring but to think that they would turn us down because we weren't wealthy enough just did not occur to us.
Bob is going to gather all he can about our resources and go there in person to explain and hope they understand that we mean to live simply - in small cities and that we don't need much. We think that if they turn us down for the long term Visa we will still go and stay as long as we can; stay for 3 months and come home.
Whatever happens we still need to sell our house if we want to stop working. We cannot afford to make our mortgage payments and take care of the garden and the house unless we both have full time jobs. But if we don't get the Visa what do we do then? We'll cross that bridge when we come to it but I am a nervous wreck!!
We probably better have a Plan B if this falls through and decide what comes next in our lives!
January 3, 2005
This morning I woke up with tears in my eyes and a big lump in my throat. We met with the realtor yesterday and signed the papers agreeing to sell our house. I knew this day was coming but still I am so sad to do it. It will really break my heart to walk away from this house - even knowing there is excitement and happiness ahead as well. But giving up this house makes me sadder than I can say.
We are still waiting for our Visas to arrive. It's been almost two months since we applied and we haven't heard a word. We could end up selling the house before we know we have them. The exchange rate is even worse now: 1.35 euros to the dollar and this is not good news for us. Our language skills are not good either! We keep at it and we are optimistic that once we are there it will all work out. I just hope we are right!!
Went to Richmond to see Chris and Kyla. Our little granddaughter is now 8 months old. What a cutie she is! We'll see her again in March and then not for two years. That will be the hardest part of this whole adventure. But if we don’t go now, we probably never will and she’s too young now to know the difference.
My sister and her girls, Sam and Maddie came to Phoenix to spend Thanksgiving with us. It was so great to have them here! We won't see them again until our "Farewell Tour of America" in March and then, hopefully in Italy!