Packing everything up for moving is a bittersweet task. This is my third transcontinental move. Each time, I sort through my belongings, which have become less each time, to evaluate their value. The value usually has nothing to do with money, but more with memories, replaceability, and sentiment. Furniture, kitchenware, and linens never make the cut.

Instead, I chose books that I bought at museums and art exhibits, or places that I have traveled. Art that spoke to me on a sidewalk in Rome, Florence, Paris, or Bruges I carefully wrapped with no thought of leaving it. All of the framed photographs of friends and family that will personalize my new home I place into boxes. Pottery we bought on our honeymoon, glasses that were a wedding gift, an afghan that my grandmother made are all making the move.

I look around this tiny apartment with three rooms of about 600 square feet and think how happy we’ve been here. It was our first home together and five years of our lives have passed here. It’s a drop in the bucket and a lifetime at the same time.

We’ve had countless dinner parties with friends, played cards together night after night, watched movies, hung out the windows to watch the parades down Borgo Ognissanti, become friends with neighbors, and know the owners of most of the shops along our street. One of my cats who was eighteen years old died here, and we took in another kitten as an addition to our family. We celebrated several Christmases with my sons. Friends slept on our couch.

As I pack, the rooms start to look empty and lose their personality. The thought of leaving it and this city is heartbreaking. The thought of my new exotic home is exciting and intoxicating. Starting over again is intriguing and frightening. So many conflicting emotions. I pack those away in one of my internal boxes as well. I will take them out and look them over once I arrive in my new home.



  1. Karen, I admire your bravery in making this move from one dream to another. I moved to Italy three years ago which was fulfilling my dream but I can see how they can also change and grow and so happy that you’re following wherever life takes you. In bocca al lupo!

    • Karen Mills Reply

      Thank you Jasmine. I hope your life in Italy is as rich and full as mine was and that all your dreams come true.

  2. oh shoot. looking at these photos makes me sad all over again! xo

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