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When I was young — free and springy and adventuresome — it didn’t seem like  a leap of faith to move across the country. My plan was to live in the world’s great (in my opinion) cities for two years each. I’d already tried Madrid, London and New York. Paris and San Francisco called to me.

So one day, close to graduation, I entered the law school lounge and announced to Bob and Sue, who were moving to San Francisco, that I was too.  “We’ll rent a house together!” they exclaimed.

I had a federal grant to practice poverty law in a Spanish-speaking community. The government in its wisdom had assigned me to Cape Cod Legal Services, where there was a large community of out-of-work Portuguese fishermen. She speaks Spanish, so she must speak Portuguese, they apparently thought. I flew to Cape Cod, where I’d led bike trips in previous summers, and the lawyers there said to get a case of beer and a color TV to tough it out through the winter. It did not sound appealing.

While the government thought this over, I was not to be derailed from my plan. I signed up for the California Bar exam and flew to San Francisco to talk my way into a position in the Mission office of San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation, which served the city’s Latino community. I convinced the lawyers in the Mission office that the federal government wanted to send me there and persuaded the government that the lawyers wanted me. I was transferred to the Mission.

After two years in that community, California Rural Legal Assistance offered me a managing attorney position in Santa Maria, an outpost in the Central Valley. These were heady Farm Worker days, led by Cesar Chavez, but I still had a dream of living in glamorous cities. I left “good works” and tried to love the law by clerking for a judge, practicing corporate litigation, and teaching. Finally, I left the law, like many lawyers wish they could. The daily tasks were tedious and stressful: not two of my favorite things. My two years projected in San Francisco turned into 45.

Now I am going to Italy and will see what it's like to parla italiano, eat pasta, and live near towns far older than our youngster, the USA. It's like dropping out of a helicopter into a foreign land. I am no longer drawn to large cities, and want a feeling of community. I am not so young and springy, but I still have a sense of adventure. This is a leap of faith.

Writing prompt: Write about a time you took a chance and tell us how it turned out.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Laura Deutsch

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