Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Susan Pohlman's Halfway to Each Other

The subtitle for this book is : 'How a year in Italy Brought Our Family Home' and it is the Italy that got my attention since we had just booked our tickets to go to Italy in summer. It is a memoir and I was looking for pointers from someone who actually lived in Italy. It was not a waste at all because if it wasn't for this book I wouldn't have known to take a beeline to St.Peter's Square to see the Pope as soon as we reached our hotel that Sunday.

Pohlman is a good writer and the book is written from the heart. I took some lessons from it without even realizing that I did. She and her husband were living the American dream to the fullest. Shuttling their two kids back and forth for their myriad of activities and entertaining for the husband's high profile and busy work and taking part in all parent volunteering at the school with barely any time for each other or for the grand home they had bought together. When counseling didn't work the couple decided it was time to divorce. That is when they took a last trip together for a work related conference of Jim Pohlman. Having had some time for each other in between entertaining guests rekindled some of their old feelings and suddenly they were not sure that divorce was the right choice. Jim asked Susan if they could give it another chance with the irresistible choice of living in Italy for a year, away from the rat race waiting back home. Normally a grounded creature of habit, Susan was not so sure of this uprooting of their lives but she agreed with Jim in giving each other another chance. Being on vacation and being with each other without all the baggage helped them to see themselves as they had in good times.

Once the decision was made, they sold the house and got the kids admitted to the only International school in Italy. The location of this school decided where they will live. Thus the entire family sans their sweet dog moved lock stock and barrel to the top floor of an apartment building in Italy close to Genoa. Despite the initial hiccups and general feel of reduced amenities compared to their American lives, the family soon adjusted to the slow relaxed pace of life in Italy. Susan even managed to memorize what pasta goes with what sauce and was able to order things with confidence towards the end of their stay. She found friends among the other school moms and both kids adjusted after at first being extremely grumpy about the regular routine in their lives.

At the end of the year, they decided that without a steady income they simply cannot continue in Italy. So they moved back again after much thought but this time with a solid marriage and happier more mature children. They also simplified their lives by opting for a smaller home and making things less complicated to manage.

This book is inspiring and thought provoking since it makes you look at many things through a different eye. Even if they were things you knew it still is good to hear it from another source. The book serves you in more ways than one. As a travelogue, a self help sort of book and just a plain satisfying read.