I Swam Away To Purple John

Parmesan cheese
parmigiano reggiano

Purple John cheese


Prosecco, Prosciutto and Purple John cheese

I just re-read my first post from 2009. It took me 2 full years, but I did indeed swim away from my perfect island – smack into what one might metaphorically say are shark infested waters. Namely, the chaos of everyday life in Italy. It is a beautiful chaos, however, complete with Prosecco, prosciutto and Parmesan cheese, also known as Purple John cheese in our house.

Let me back up a little. In 2009 I was living in suburban California. My family and I lived in what may well be one of the nicest, most pleasant places to live and raise kids on the planet. It is easy to live there. It is safe, friendly and offers a fantastic location, perfect weather and excellent schools. That being said, I have always been a gypsy at heart and I wanted more challenge in my life. As the saying goes, “be careful what you wish for.” An international move is not for the faint of heart.

Vision Boards and Meditation


So there I was in 2009 hoping to move internationally. Since my husband is the primary breadwinner, this involved getting him on board with my vision. We had casually talked about living abroad over the years. His plan was to move abroad when our children were grown and gone. He saw us spending our golden years traveling and touring the world. My vision was to take the kids with us; to broaden their worlds now; to have them learn another language; to assure them that they needn’t be afraid to experience all that the world has to offer. So the question became, how to bring the two visions together?

I studied my options and evaluated the tools I had in my arsenal. What I arrived it was this: my husband is a first generation Polish American. In the eyes of Poland, he is a Polish citizen despite being born and raised in America. I encouraged him to apply for his dual citizenship. He may even tell you that I badgered him.

My argument went something like this: The world is becoming more global with every passing day. Once he had Polish citizenship (i.e. European Union benefits) then our children would also be Polish citizens with EU benefits. Armed with an international education, fluency in three languages and a comfort level of living in either the US or Europe, the world would be their oyster when they graduated from college. This move and experience would afford them more opportunities, more choices in the long run. These arguments were hard for him to deny. Eventually he acquiesced and applied for dual citizenship.

Next, I adhered to all the new age tenets and I simply willed it to happen. I envisioned an international move in my mind’s eye. I meditated on it. I made a wish every time we went through a tunnel on our way to and from San Francisco. I posted a picture on my bulletin board of London. I had photo magnets of Paris superimposed with a Chinese fortune cookie insert that read “Follow Your Dreams.” But most importantly, I researched international job offers for my husband and continually placed the ads in front of him. He may even tell you that I badgered him.

We evaluated a number of situations that arose over the two years but none of them were quite right. My husband was on board with my vision at this point but didn’t want to move just for the sake of moving. It had to be the right job; the right living situation. We considered Barcelona, London, Grenoble. We decided to be patient. I turned it over to the universe.

And, then one day the right job and the right living situation did come along and va bene . . . here we are. It is September 2011 and we have moved from the suburban comfort of Pleasanton, California to Parma, Italy.


At this point you are probably thinking, that is all very interesting, but why the Hell is this blog called Purple John?

When my daughter was a toddler and just learning to speak she frequently made up words that sounded similar to the adult versions. Quite often, she would repeat a word with her own twist on the pronunciation. For example, she would say strawbellies instead of strawberries; froggy instead of foggy. One of the words she transposed was Parmesan. In her 3 year old mind Parmesan cheese was Purple John cheese. For years our family has been asking one another to pass the Purple John at the dinner table.

Imagine our surprise then when we realized we were moving to Parma, Italy – the birthplace of Purple John cheese. Apparently the universe has a sense of humor.

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