Marriage in a foreign country can be really difficult because all of a sudden you have two governments involved in what is essentially a deeply-personal ‘human’ choice. I must make several declarations of intent to several government bodies, all of which require fees for their “time” and “labor” for their role in allowing us to prepare all of our documents for their records. At the end they can issue us a stamp and take our payment for their services of listening and allowing us to make their records for them – grazie, arrivederci.
This is actually a very happy occasion, and perhaps sums up the vicissitudes of my life. From the moment I left the house at 19 to try and make my fortune as a rock star in Los Angeles, I always had a sense that perhaps I would live in Europe some day. I never imagined it would be Italy as it seemed far too cliche, and back then I always imagined Germany because of the well-orderedness of the society, the heavy metal and opera scenes, and because I thought the German language was cool. But as much as I felt moving to Europe to be with a woman was on the cards for me, the manner in which it befell me was stranger than I could have imagined. Upon the sands of Namibia’s beaches I met an Italian woman always with three young black kids in tow. The oldest among them made her invite me to dinner, as he overheard I was from Washington D.C. and thought I would make for an interesting dinner guest. Back in the capital of Windhoek, we met a second time in a game reserve, where we fell in love. Fast forward 3 weeks after I went to Ghana, and poof – I was in Northern Italy. 4 months of living together + COVID-19 + 2 kittens and we decided we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.
The story includes a hundred little serendipitous moments like the few I have already listed, like the spur of the moment decision to arrive in Venice for a 1 day vacation in February because we thought the city would be relatively empty, only to find the opening day of Carnival, where the theme was “Love, Games, and Folly,” and after seeing the amazing canal boat performance art pieces, heard the famous Italian poem recited on the loudspeakers: “If you’ll be with me, I will teach you to stay, and you will teach me to fly.” It all really brings into focus the difference between the first and second stage of one’s life. I feel like after she said yes, a million different things of all sorts were revealed to me – as varied as what responsibility and love really mean, and why liberals don’t understand economics, to why it may be more important to take up farming than pursuing traveling all the more. The long term is so unpleasant to think about when one is young, but now I’m way more excited about staring at the 1.19% dividend on my Barrick Gold shares or of the thought of the blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, and red currant bushes my mother-in-law and I planted fruiting next year than I do thinking about going to iHop for breakfast or getting off work so I can play World of Warcraft.
Blending our lives together has been a fascinating experience because it forces you to imagine yourself as inhabiting two bodies; essentially imposing the care of another person so far into your sense of self-preservation that actively thinking about it becomes a redundancy. But when this is done with not only another person and their family, but another country and customs and constitution, it’s another thing entirely. Where do you want to live becomes a much broader question as you’d imagine. There’s not a lot of personal freedom in Italy. The government is tired, corrupt, and ineffectual. The school system leaves a lot to be desired, and the tax burden is high. However it is one of the most beautiful countries on earth, and contains some of the most important pieces of art and architecture in the history of humanity. The United States on the other hand has more lenient taxation, more lenient laws dealing with personal liberty, immeasurably beautiful and well-managed wilderness. But the stability of the culture is practically non-existent, the dollar is in the process of crashing terribly, the real-estate market is almost eternally inflated, we are about to enter the most divisive election in our country’s history, while government spending is so high, our own billionaires are betting against us. It’s a tough choice for sure, especially because neither of us are marrying a Dutchman!
Our summer has been one of continual loving and growth. During the COVID-19 lockdown months we were constantly together, laughing at the news of the divorce rate skyrocketing because husbands and wives had to be locked together all day. After Lombardy and Piedmont reopened, we started going to the mountains in the warm weather, eating cheese and climbing hills and dipping our feet into glacial rivers. After, the wedding plans accelerated, and we started going to lakes and beaches and eventually Naples, and now with only 13 days left before we say “I do,” we are preparing for the first arrival of a family member from the United States to make the whole thing a little bit more legitimate. These are just a few of my thoughts so far throughout this whole process, and I will probably write more later on.