June 22, 2017 by Emma Bentley
Setting up life in a new country is never simple. That said, it’s been almost exactly one year since I made the decision to move and I don’t regret it at all. For every “that didn’t work out the way I thought it would” set-back (I wouldn’t go so far as to say failure, although some ideas did fail), I’ve made a huge, astronomical leap forward.
What is rather strange, when I reflect on it, is how the best things to have occurred to me didn’t happen because of or due to any of my own calculations. They occurred purely by chance.
My four-legged companion, who is currently snoozing by my side, found me. She had been abandoned one night on the top of a hill, aged just two and a half or three months, and she sniffed out the winery where I was staying. She announced her presence by, unwittingly, causing a huge fray with the winemaker’s (rather aggressive) German Shepherd. By the time we took her to the vet the next morning, it was too late – love at first sight!
People said, “are you really going to keep her? What will you do when you travel? What about that wild nomadic lifestyle you have? You don’t even have a proper house to call your own.”
I will admit that I woke up at 4am the morning after making the decision in a cold sweat. I grew up with dogs and I knew that I wanted them in my future too, but this was much sooner than planned. Wasn’t I supposed to be settled first? “What have I done?! They’re right. Oh ****!”
The man then lying next to me (fast asleep) still doesn’t know the important role he played in those deliberations that night.
He too was a chance encounter. We came across each other three times (we both work in the same industry, in a part of Italy that’s as big as the back of an envelope) before he asked me out.
For him as well, it turns out, I was completely unexpected but happened to arrive at a fortuitous moment. He had recently come out of a very long relationship, a partnership so established that it seemed unfathomable to me. (See “wild nomadic lifestyle” above!)
“You’re the first girl I’ve been on a date with since breaking up…”
After our second date, I initiate a heart-to-heart conversation about if he wanted to jump straight into another relationship. “With you, yes.”
We’d only been seeing each other for a month or two when I wake up in that panic. It was my gut feeling as I watched him sleeping which convinced me to keep the dog. I could see a future here with those two in the leading roles.
I would have had neither the man nor the dog had I not left everything behind and made a leap of faith. Having been single or chasing after the wrong men for most of my twenties, permanently renting apartments, this feels like a very healthy step to have made.
I knew what I wanted: to leave France, to leave the city and to settle down in a rural region, where I could continue to work in wine. I was fully expecting to have to go it alone – I was looking at houses to buy, wondering how I would set myself up and if I could make it all work despite Brexit. But just this once, life played me a good card.
audentes Fortuna iuvat.