Finding Happiness in Tuscany

In case you were wondering, yes, we are still in Tuscany, on exile from Morocco.

In a text message from my mom yesterday, she wrote… “it sounds like you’ve found your happy place.”

This may not mean a lot to you. I know the term Happy Place is overused, perhaps to the point of being trivial. But to me, and to my mom who knows me well, being truly happy is something I’ve always struggled with.

I wish I could tell you why, I do. But for whatever reason, ever since I can remember, I’ve been afraid of happiness. Afraid to think it could last. Instead of allowing myself to feel joy, I worried that the thing that was currently making my life better would soon disappear, therefore, to avoid disappointment, I didn’t let myself have that contentment.

To me, a feeling of contentment is true happiness. It isn’t about laughing or always smiling, to me, it’s about peace. I just want to feel as if I can breathe, and know that I am alright. I found that when I found Rusty. Something in him caused me to let my guard down, and I could just be. We bought a beautiful house, we made it our home. I got used to being lucky, loved, and peaceful.

Then, out of nowhere, that damned hurricane hit Houston. The house was a wreck, My car drowned, my peace was ruined. For months we scraped the bottom of the savings barrel, we worked constantly at rebuilding. But somehow I’d already been changed again…fearful of anything that could take away my contentment. I punished myself for allowing myself the happiness I had felt before the storm. Rusty even noticed the change in me, thinking he was the cause of my unhappiness. It was never him. It was always ME.

I wish I knew why I was like this. Why would anyone make it so hard on themselves to just be happy? I tell other people all the time to love themselves. To let themselves enjoy the happiness they deserve. But I can’t seem to tell that to myself.

Here in Tuscany, though, I’m excited. I’m happy to wake up. To go to sleep. To watch back episodes of Jeopardy. Even Rusty is happier here – we are more of a team, and just enjoy the time we have together without so many distractions. He seems delighted to build fires, he gets a smile on his face more now than ever. I even enjoy cooking again, a long lost feeling, albeit in a tiny, impractical kitchenette. I’ve made pastas and sliced incredible charcuterie plates. I want to make cookies. Cakes. I want to sit outside and look at the valley.

But I want so much more than that now.

Two days ago we went to look at a property that is for sale. Here. In Tuscany. We had thought about buying a small apartment or house in Italy or France before we even left the U.S. – spending only what profit we would have from the sale of our house in Texas. Instead, we found ourselves pulling up to a giant home, worth 20 times what we had planned.

20 times.

It’s a B&B, of sorts. A large, stone house on 3 levels, divided into four separate apartments. 6+ bedrooms. 4 bathrooms. Six acres of the most incredible land, full of terraced greenways, forests, flower beds, and even a large pool. It has PILLARS at the entrance to the property, y’all. Pillars. Oh! It even has an amphitheater. Because who couldn’t use an amphitheater?? And the coolest part? It’s built into the side of a cliff. Inside the house, many of the rooms are carved out of the existing rock walls. It is the most unique and inspiring property I’ve ever seen.

It was renovated a few years back, at a huge price tag of over $200,000. That’s just the renovation budget. But, the gentleman that owns it has let it go a bit, as he’s suffering from MS. So, he needs to sell. It needs only cosmetic changes…new furniture, bedding, lighting…but it’s ready to go beyond that inside. Outside could benefit from some landscaping and getting the grounds back into their former glory. Still yet, in its current state, it’s making money from rentals. It could be SO much more.

So we made an offer yesterday. It will take all we have, and then some, and will take us working hard to improve the rental income and build up a great reputation in order to afford it. But we feel we can do it, and hope that in the next few days, we will know if this place will be our life. Hell, I’m already decorating it and naming the rooms, and we have no idea if we will ever even see it again.

But…This place, it could be my happy place.

I think my mom is right.

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