Friday, April 01, 2011

Flashback Friday - Celebrating My 3 Year Anniversay in Rome With Seu Jorge

Crunchy alert: level - high

I cannot believe it's been three years since my friend Robyn dropped me off at LAX with five bags of luggage.

While I had spent time in Rome, did extensive research and prepared myself for outrageous red tape, I had never lived outside America.

I was not in my early 20s or 30s. I was moving to a new country, had to learn a new language and moving thousands of miles away from my family and friends.

I didn't know what would become of me in Italy. I did know I didn't like who I was becoming as I hit my ten year anniversary in Los Angeles. Going to Toronto to work on our film TRAITOR made it clear to me I had to make a very drastic change in my life.

Once the film wrapped in Toronto, I decided to take the leap without a safety net.

During the last three years, my life has changed in ways I never imagined. I wouldn't have written the JUMPING THE BROOM spec if I didn't move. I wouldn't have this sense of being home, of peace, of feeling like I'm no longer observing my life but actually in it, had I not moved here.

I wouldn't have met my incredible friends, who I get see regardless of our hectic work schedules. My married friends and/or friends with children still have time for me here. Single woman without children are not cast out to sea in Italy.

Nobody here schedules dinner or drinks three weeks in advance like we had to in L.A. I tried to do that when I first arrived. That habit died quickly.

When you ask people how are they are, they tell you. They don't say, "busy", then run through a list of all their work projects to prove they are busier than you because they are a more important producer, exec, whatever.

Rome took me by surprise. I never expected to fall in love with this crazy city. When I was a teenager, I thought I would live in London or Paris one day.

During that first trip to Rome, six years ago this month, I assumed the effect the city was having on me was because of what was going on (or not going on) in my life back in L.A. I went to Rome after the production company I worked for shut down. I had been to European cities before, London, Paris, Amsterdam, etc. I wasn't an Italofile.

The next year I returned for a longer stay, renting an apartment in Trastevere. I had to see what this Rome thing was all about. This time I had a job.

Didn't matter. I had an even stronger reaction to Rome and Italy in general. On that trip I also traveled outside of Rome.

"Rome was a poem pressed into service as a city." Anatole Broyard.

I think about the Broyard quote often.

Us expats may complain about the random strikes (of course, there's a big transit one today), the bizarro Bunga-Bunga politics and the bureaucracy. But like Broyard said Rome was "pressed" into being a city.

Of course things are not as organized as they are in America. If they were, Italy would be perfect and no place is. The key is to find a place that is right for your priorities.

During that second trip to Rome I listened to Seu Jorge's CRU CD constantly. He's a Brazilian actor/singer. If you saw CITY OF GOD he played Knockout Ned and in LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZIZZOU (which was shot in Rome) he was the sailor who sang all the David Bowie covers in Portuguese.

It wasn't until a few months after my trip, that I saw the video for the song "Tive Razao". This is one of favorite tracks off the CD.

Where was the video filmed? In Rome, in Piazza delle Chiesa Nuova, near where I live now. Nice cameos by Willem Dafoe and Bill Murray.

This song (VIDEO HERE) always reminds of that trip. During those weeks I said to my friend, another producer who was in Rome at the same, I was going to move to Rome. I planned to do it when I was older, maybe in my 50s. I'm glad I didn't wait.

The apartment I rented belong to an actor friend of a friend. The owner was on set in Naples so his girlfriend, Valentina, showed me the apartment.

Four years later I moved to Rome. My first week here, my friend G. invited me to come with him and his girlfriend to a party thrown by a production company celebrating the release of their movie NON PENSARCI.

A few minutes after we arrive, who do I see? Valentina. She said, "Welcome back." G. was incredulous. Not sure how she remembered me after only a short meeting four years earlier.

Buon weekend.


Di said...

Delicious. Had to post parts of this on Facebook ... as in Tive and the quote. Lovely start to my day, thanks. And congratulations too.

Megan said...

What a great story. I am glad you made the jump, like we all did, and have stayed. Love love love Seu Jorge.

Moi said...

Happy anniversary! If Mr. 818 comments, please let me answer....

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Di - grazie!

Megan - I'm glad you made the jump too.

Moi - Thanks cara. His comment will be marked as spam and deleted like all the others.

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Three years already! Wow. Auguri -- on all you've accomplished these last three years, coming from someone who has experienced the first three years in Italy ;)

I've loved following your journey to this point, and I look forward to the next 3, 6, 30 years as well :) xx

AntoBlueberry said...

I'm glad you're enjoying your life here. Lots of friends working in the field decided to leave Italy because they don't like how the industry (and politics) works here. But I like being in Rome, it's a great place to live.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

michelle - Isn't crazy? It seems like just yesterday I was asking you for advice about my move.

autoblueberry - I hope things get better in the film industry here. I wonder why the UK and Italy struggle (you can't really compare Hollywood to Europe, different models) but yet France's film industry is booming. Is it a financing issue? I know the budget for film financing in France is more than double what it is in Italy and the UK just shut down their Film Council (which helped finance THE KINGS SPEECH. Scary times.

fashion survivor said...

Congrats on three years! As I lived there for nine months myself I know what an accomplishment this is. Hope to be able to hang out with you again there in year four, five, six . . .

Paola said...

In times when everyone is trashing Italy and its strings attached it's refreshing to read what you wrote, how you wrote it.
There's love for this crazy place in your words.
Thank you.

Anna said...

Happy anniversary! It's really great to read what you write about Rome! so stay there, be happy as you are and write more:)

Gina said...

Happy Anniversary bella, I'm so happy that you took the leap too. x

Eleonora said...

Happy 3rd anniversary! Your story is wonderful, and your love for Rome reminds us residents of how lucky we are to be living here.

Huge crush on Seu Jorge during Life Aquatic shoot...

Tanisha said...

aww, I wish I could stay but the universe is calling me someplace else. But I shall return. Sorry I did not get to meet u while I was here. I am leaving in Mid May, unless of course u want to make a day trip to Bologna..:D

GigiSxm said...

Happy anniversary!!!

dorinalouise said...

what a beautiful post. it really brought a smile to my face. you have a beautiful soul, and you belong in italy!

erin said...

yay!! I really can't believe it's been 3 years already! so happy for you.

gibber said...

What a great post! I miss being able to talk on the phone everyday, but I'm so glad you moved. Maybe someday I'll even be able to come visit you! :)

You're my favourite sister!!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

fs - thanks. Hope to you over here soon!

paola - you're welcome. Trust me, I know Italy has its problems but so does every place I have lived (and I've lived in a lot of different cities).

anna - grazie.

gina - thanks cara!!

eleonora - I had a crush on him too. So talented!

tanisha - good luck with your relocation. I would love to visit Bologna again but will be traveling for our movie, so no day trips until later in the year.

gigisxm - thank you!

dl - I'm verklempt. grazie

erin - crazy. don't believe it myself. See you soon!

gibber - You're my favorite sister as well and yes, you need get yourself on a plane.

UrbanTravelGirl said...

TANTI AUGURI, cara!!! I am SO thrilled we were able to meet just a week ago tomorrow in your fascinating and fabulous "hometown" of Rome.

You know what a total Italophile I am but yet, you and your story -- and the serenity, peace and true joy you have found in bella Italia -- have inspired me to no end. I know I said I was considering relocating to Latin America, but spending those precious few days in Rome -- and getting to meet amazing sistagirls like you -- are making me rethink my plans. Italy's in my heart and soul, and perhaps that's where I truly belong. Nothing worth having or doing comes easily -- and your story proves that it's worth the effort, even if it's an effort that's done "solo."



nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Maureen - it was great to meet you as well. So glad Kelly introduced us. Let me know what you decide to do. Hopefully will see you on this side of the pond soon!

BigCNYC said...

Congrats on your stay Ragazza! I wonder if your ears have been burning because I've talked you up so much as work lately. I'm trying to get them to assign you an essay about your experience moving to Italia. Fingers crossed. Also I saw Jumping the Broom twice... I LOVE IT!!! Congrats again.

Grace said...

Congrats on your 3 year anniversary! This post is really inspiring to me, as I have been kicking around the idea of moving to Europe for the past few years. I'm currently a student, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to study in Florence next fall, which I know is entirely different from what you accomplished, but I've still been getting a bit jittery about it lately. Something about leaving some of the little comforts of home behind scares me. But thank you for this wonderfully written piece that reminds me to just go for it.

Suzette said...

Happy Anniversary and congratulations on making it work in Bella Roma!!!! It is indeed a poem and one that is very recitable as you have proven with the incredible life you have built there. Keep smiling and 'living' and the rest will fall into place.


nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

bigCNYC - Ciao! Thanks for thinking of me and I'm very glad to hear you loved the movie!!

grace - Good luck with your study aboard program. I completely understand being nervous about being away from home. The good thing is you will have the support of your university. Florence is a beautiful city. It's not too big and there is a very large English speaking exchange student population.

suzette - grazie!

homebody at heart said...

Congratulations on your anniversary. I was just thinking this morning about the difference of living in Italy and the US. You made the right choice.

oilandgarlic said...

Very inspiring post, as my husband and I are debating now about moving to Italy. We are in L.A. too and very jaded by the L.A. attitude toward friendships and dinners. It's so much easier to get together with our Italian or European friends, but eventually the L.A. attitude usually takes hold. We're guilty of that too I guess. I hope we dare to make the change soon!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

homebody - grazie!!

oilandgarlic - Good luck making your decision. I lived in L.A. for 10 years and I still found it a tough nut to crack.

Claudia said...

Congratulations on 3 years!! Wow it doesn't seem that long, does it? so happy for you to be in a place that makes your soul sing...

Miss Roman Apartment said...


Can't wait to see what you do in the next year!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Claudia - no it doesn't. Time is flying by.

MRA - grazie cara!