Having returned to America from my semester in Florence, Italy last Saturday, I have clearly taken my time in posting anything about my farewell to Italy and my return back to this strange country I call home. This is because all that I can articulate about the whole thing is
I am sad
Because honestly, how do you sum up the strangest, most exciting, tiresome, scary, and thrilling three and a half months of your life? How do you put that into pre-packaged little words that you scramble away on your laptop back at home in your childhood bed?
Sitting in this bed with my stuffed animals and my best friend Dona, the same thing I have done for the last god-knows-how-many years, makes me feel like those three and a half months in Italy weren’t even real. When people ask me the much-anticipated question how was Italy? I just want to ask them, wait, I was in Italy? That was me in my own life? What?
And at the same time, I feel like kind of a jerk when I’m standing in line in Starbucks chatting with my friends and I say Oh, in Istanbul, Starbucks has way better holiday drinks and the woman in front of me turns around and gives me a confused look. I feel even worse when I ask my family, Hey, what’s new? and they have nothing to report, when all I want to do is tell them about how I spent the weekend before last in Ireland. I feel spoiled, awful. For a second, saying Florence sounds so natural and it rolls off my tongue because it was where I called home. Now, it is a faraway place that people dream of visiting.
At the same time, I remind myself that I made this decision to go, and it was scary and exciting and I did it, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of to not want to be the same person I was back in August. It’s okay to come home and not be happy anymore with going to Applebee’s for dinner when I could be at a family-run hole-in-the-wall place or go on yet another vacation to Florida. It’s okay to not want to wear sweats and Uggs and look like every other cookie-cutter girl in their Victoria’s Secret gear and it’s okay to want to explore the cities that are in your own backyard that you now see that you haven’t really experienced yet.
And yet it’s also okay to take back the life that was yours- your friends, your jobs, your much-loved responsibilities and your big bed and your pets and your obscene amount of purses that still have tags on them. It’s okay to appreciate your television set in English and the fact you can now send text messages without asking what’s the wifi password? I missed my friends and my cat and the fact that I am needed here in America, that people rely on me and I’m not just flitting about aimlessly just because I felt like it.
On this note, I feel like some of the things I wanted so badly to come home to maybe weren’t so great after all. I craved pancakes and bacon and buffalo sauce and driving, and now that I have it, I miss my beautiful pastas and fresh croissants and taking a nice walk to class. It’s funny how the things that once seemed so important really aren’t so important at all. I used to wish I had my dryer back and that I had all my clothes in my closet back to wear. Now I see I wear all the same outfits I wore in Italy anyway.
So what am I getting at here? Um, that’s a good question. I was hoping this was something I would be answering at the end of this post but maybe it’s just not possible to make these grandiose conclusions after something profound. I’m happy to be home, to have my life back and my friends back. Yet I am saddened by the problems I see in America that I was blind to in the past. All I can think of is that day we got in our taxi at the ripe time of 7:00 am in the much-fitting pouring rain and bid farewell to our beautiful Duomo, our beautiful home, that we will never return to, that feels like a dream.