Opportunity Knocks

On my way to class one morning, I had paused to review the job openings in the food service industry and the upcoming culinary team competitions posted on the bulletin board.  A photograph of a coastal village peppered with terra-cotta roofs caught my eye.  I took out my reading glasses and stepped closer.  “International Internship Program,” the flyer beckoned.  I pulled out the push-pin and freed the announcement. “Spend 10 weeks working in a five-star hotel restaurant on the Amalfi Coast of Italy.” TEN WEEKS IN ITALY? COOKING?  Italian cuisine was my favorite. Wouldn’t that be amazing if I could be accepted to the internship program? I decided to attend the information session.


There were about 100 students present that first day for the presentation, and I took the application packet with me after it ended. Only 5 students would be selected for the program and they would have to undergo rigorous written and practical exams as well as take an Italian language class.  There was no guarantee that I would be selected, but I needed to tell Craig that I wanted to apply.


I knew my husband wouldn’t be happy if I went to Italy for the summer, not necessarily because he would miss me while I was away, but because it was more convenient for him to have me at home. I had always catered to my husband’s every whim.  For nearly 40 years, I had arisen with him each morning to prepare his breakfast, kept a meticulous house, dropped off dry cleaning, took the dog to the vet, the kids to the dentist, doctor and sporting events, and met him at the door every evening with an appetizer and a glass of wine. I paid the bills and stuck to a strict budget that he dictated. I washed and vacuumed our cars. I painted, replaced wax seals on toilets and did drywall. I trimmed hedges, raked leaves and weeded because he didn’t like doing any of those things.


That Sunday afternoon we took a long walk with the dog, and I decided to broach the subject.


“Craig,” I started hesitantly. “My culinary arts program offers a summer internship cooking at an Italian restaurant on the Amalfi coast and I’m thinking of applying.”

“Why would you want to do that?” He asked mildly annoyed. “If you want to get experience cooking in a restaurant, you can do it here in Annapolis.”

“I think Italy is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited,” I replied as I recalled the trip we made to Rome and Tuscany with our youngest son, Eric, when he graduated from high school.

“I love Italian cuisine and the language is so romantic. To be able to cook in Italy would be an incredible experience.”

“You don’t need to go,” firmly.

“Craig, I need to do this. I’ve never done anything for myself before. I’m not asking for your permission. I’m telling you that I’m going to apply for the program.”

“I already told you how I feel about it. You aren’t going.” he said with finality. But it was almost as if he was trying to convince himself rather than forbidding me to go. He yanked the dog’s leash and stormed ahead of me back to the car. I felt let down and depressed as though all the air had been let out of my balloon. I really wanted to do this and felt that if he truly loved me, he would respect my desires. Hadn’t I supported his interests in the past? I felt miserable, but I decided that I was not going to let him talk me out of it.

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