Désirée Marie Townley in Rome
I am a Girl Gone International because...
I have a particular dislike of boundaries.
I always jumped fences, climbed trees and forged rivers. As I travel the world I relish the freedom to consume my education through people, activities and events and feel unburdened by social norms.
I have learned to be foreign, and because it has been a personal choice, I am afforded the privilege to indulge in it.
When I was a child, I was surrounded by other females; grandmothers, cousins, a sister, a mother, aunts, etc. As an adult traveler, far from home, I discovered how difficult societies boundaries make it for women to create friendships (outside of work and family).
It can be astonishingly strenuous to make friends, outside of your own culture, as an adult, traveling, struggling with language, and void of any normal daily schedule.
Where do you live or where are you right now and why?
I currently live in Rome, Italy.
What would you go back and tell your younger self?
Live a life that is worth divulging in old age. Boredom will kill you. Adventure is story worthy. Be story worthy.
What does 'community' mean to you?
A non-competitive environment that enables personal growth and social support. A place to talk about tucking your skirt into your panties, and trusting that empathetic laughter will follow.
What keeps you living far from where you started?
I have the most incredible support system in my family. They were proud of me when I sat on the bench in softball, when I arrived home bleeding after rollerskating, and when I tucked my tutu into my tights at ballet. I have a support system that makes failure impossible. They afford me the chance to be the family storyteller and they support my adventures.
How do you get involved in the local community you find yourself in?
Take a coffee everyday in the same place. Make friends with the people who work there. Coffee is a lifestyle in Italy. Live it.
What are your thoughts on 'settling down'?
I really hate this term. Even when I was a kid. It basically means 'control yourself to meet the energy level of the majority'. Even when I am relaxing and behaving myself, I'm still certainly outside of the norm, and thank the heavens for it! I prefer to 'stir things up'. I intend to do this far beyond my natural lifetime (offensive autobiography published posthumously?)
How do you make a 'home' wherever you find yourself?
Home is wherever I have most recently settled my 'nest' and I am certainly a 'nester' and like to create an environment around myself that suits my senses. My home moves a lot but I bring cashmere blankets, wool socks, silk PJ's and essential oils everywhere I go.
Any thoughts on friendship while travelling?
Go to gatherings of likeminded women. I volunteer as the community manager here in Rome. My advice is arrive and ask a lot of questions. All of the women who come to the GGI events, arrive in a spirit of friendship.
All of them have learned BIG life lessons and probably the hard way. The more you ask, the more help you can get. The willingness of our members to give, assist, and help is what makes this a beautiful community.
What piece of advice would you give a girl wanting to go international?
GO! and give one of us a call wherever and whenever you arrive.
What is your life's motto? Or any quotes to share?
"You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then – to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you."
Your philosophy on life is...
Humor conquers all.