Thoughts in a moment of discomfort

4.33am on the U.S. East Coast up since 2.33am and just can’t sleep. This past summer I started suffering from insomnia, caused by the fact that I just can’t seem to turn my brain off when my head hits the pillow. I actually don’t live in the States any more, my biggest mistake in life was to leave my country in the first place, but when you’re 22 you just can’t see in front of your nose. At least I couldn’t. Fresh out of college, went to Italy and well to make a long story short, have been living there ever since. Boy am I paying for it.
Married, two wonderful children, what could one ask for, right? Wrong! A job. A stable one preferably, one that would assure me some sort of a steady income. Instead I became a teacher in the Italian public school system and that was the second biggest mistake of my life. After 15 years of working on annual contracts and having reached the age of 42, I continue on being without a steady income, because in Italy, it is easier to be a poor man than a permanent teacher. Yes, you got that right. After so many years I have nothing!
Every year I return home to the States to visit my family and I get hit again and again, punched in the face, we could say. Why am I punishing my self by living in a country where a man can’t grow professionally, where men and women who have done so much and have invested so much in their careers and in the school system, are repaid with nothing?
In a few days I will once again have to say goodbye to my family for another year and return to the “Dolce Vita” a sweetness which is killing me. I’ll return “home” to a country where I have no hopes for a future and God only knows for the future of my children; a country that in two months time hasn’t yet been able to pay me unemployment, forcing my family and I to live off the people who love us, while the bills pile up. Yet I read in the news that our Prime Minister Mario Monti earns over 52,000 euro a month, while I don’t even get paid my unemployment and am forced to pay taxes for a crisis that they created.
Almost 5am now, worried about how I’ll manage, how will my family and I survive when you’re constantly put by your own government in a position of begging for what is yours in the first place. A job is all a person wants. I went to university, I studied, I graduated, I speak two languages, I had dreams (still have them no matter what), I wanted to be someone, wanted to give (and gave I did, to my students with all my heart), but when is it enough? When is it enough that you’re allowed to say NO!
Does the love for one’s family push you to rid yourself of this massive weight that is killing you and look elsewhere for a future not found? Even if that future you’re searching for might not save the integrity of that family that you are so fighting for, is it still ok to look else where?
When do we say no to living in undignified conditions? When do we say No, to cultural interference? When do we say No, to a life I didn’t sign up for? All I wanted was to have a job, provide for my family and be able to pay my bills.
Italy, instead has taken my life, my energy, my innovation in the classroom, my essence and given me nothing in return except for uncertainty (15 years on annual contracts with 4 months without pay per year),poverty and made sure that my kids lived in it just as much as I did!
The reason why people get tired is that no matter how hard you work, merit in Italy is non existent. What counts is who do you know? And how he/she can help you! Such a sad excuse for a future!
I was born in the 70’s, brought up with dreaming of the stars, but I have yet to fly high.
Don’t get me wrong, my family, my kids are the most important part of my life, but it is for them that I wanted more out of life and not find my self after 15 years of working in the Italian public school system with 4 euro in my pocket.
I have so much to give not only professionally but as a person as well, but every year on June 30th I have to say goodbye to my students and colleagues without knowing what will be of me for yet another year. Most of all not knowing how to put food on my table and pay those bills.
This is not the life I dreamed of when I was young. This is not what pushed me to do well in college. This is just not what makes me smile. So when do I say no?

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