It has been a year, and the sky did not fall.

On July 31, I toasted a year of living here. Well, living here again. You might know, if you’ve read the About Me section (which I really should re-tweak) or you know me personally, that I lived here before when I was in my earliest twenties. The decision to come back, abandoning a traditional law firm career full of momentum, was agonizing. I remember telling my best friend Jonathan, “If I don’t go to Rome now, I never will!” And like only a real friend will permit himself to do, he reminded me, “Well, you did already do it, you know.”

And that’s true. Which made it even more difficult. I had already had this adventure, and sown my wild oats. If I hadn’t, that would have been a plausible explanation for this lunacy. Instead, the decision to throw up a peace sign to my law firm, to Dallas, to the home I had bought only two years earlier and the pool I thought I’d teach my future babies to swim in, and my friends, and trivia night at Buffalo Wild Wings, and the lawsuits I had been working on for years, and my paralegal who brightened every morning, and my three colleagues who I genuinely loved having lunch with every day at freaking 11:30 AM, and the Chevy Malibu that I had never replaced even though I went from starving student to well-paid counselor, and my ex’s family who had become my family, and Jonathan, and Jennifer, and my walk-in closet, and my powerful air conditioner, and the palatial grocery store I could navigate blind, and parking, parking everywhere, and my exquisite parents and sister just a short flight away, and Netflix, and Bravo, and Target, and Home Depot, and wide open spaces and wide open roads, and the American Dollar, and a million television channels, and clients I was finally getting to know personally, and unbelievably low taxes, and my double oven, and my rose garden, and my herb garden, and my clothes dryer, and all my grandmother’s lovely furniture that I had finally gotten out of storage only to now have to put back into storage, and reliable mail, and reliable utilities, and affordable everything, was wrenching my guts.

And it was even more agonizing because there was nothing whatsoever heroic about going off to have an adventure at 32 years old. I wasn’t joining the military, or the Peace Corps, or even the public defender’s office. My motives, at least from the outside, appeared to involve a desire for more party-time. The truth is that I wasn’t miserable in Dallas. If I had been, the decision would have been quite easy and agony-free, no? If I had really been a rabbit trapped in a cage, which I sometimes, dishonestly, claim to have been, it wouldn’t have taken any courage to chew off my own foot to get out.

Instead, everything was rather tolerable. And then I got this idea that “tolerable” is no way to spend this one-and-only life that God has given me. About the same time, one of my oldest friends, whom I had known since she was born a year after I, died of breast cancer.  She was kinder than I will ever be, really sweet like a puppy, and it didn’t seem possible. I was overwhelmed with my own mortality, at 32 years old.

Combine all that with the biggest romantic disappointment of my life and you have the perfect storm for a major life upheaval. I thought for two seconds about moving to Hawaii, about practicing some kind of law there, or maybe Colorado, but I only ever really considered going back to Rome. The most difficult place to move to in the world, maybe, if you want to actually make a living legally. The economy is in the toilet, no one is hiring, let alone sponsoring, foreigners, and the Euro is crushing my Dollars.

But I came, legally, and have been able to keep up something of a law practice and scrape together enough to pay my Manhattan-level rent. In the first months, I was not sure how long I would stay. I would set little goals like “Halloween” … “Thanksgiving” … ok, “Christmas.” Each time I would push the goal farther back. Some months, I made exactly 0 dollars. Other months, I broke even. One month, I made a lot. I had always had steady paychecks, and so this was stressful. Many times, I literally sobbed in the shower, thinking in complete sentences such as, “I have ruined my life.” I was terrified that maybe what I had thought was gutsiness, was really just an inflated Peter Pan syndrome.

In between fits of loneliness and regret, this year has been punctuated by extremely fun moments, most of which I have written about on this blog. You’ll pardon me if I did not write about the nights I sobbed in the shower, or ate tuna out of a can over the sink and wondered, “I left Texas for THIS?”

The encouragement I have received from some of you (friends and strangers) has meant more to me than you can imagine. I want to express my sincerest gratitude.

I don’t know how much longer I will be here. When I bought my house in Dallas, I “knew” I’d raise a family there. It turns out, nobody “knows” anything about anything.

But. It has been a year, and the sky did not fall.


Dallas, it's been real.

Dallas, it’s been real.