So, I have been avoiding doing this. I seem to think that if I just completely neglect my travel blog that then maybe my journey will not come to what feels like a screeching halt. But, alas, I need to write.
I hate them.
I think that the past few weeks have been the most emotional weeks I have ever had, but I cannot really do my feelings justice. Within my group of study abroad friends there is this presence of a profound need to explain the shift and turmoil that has manifested within us, however it becomes impossible when put to the test. In the end, the only thing that truly pacified this desperate need to explain ourselves was being with each other; as silly as it sounds we didn’t want to leave one another.
Study Abroad has been an array of things for me; when I began this semester in Florence I was extremely uncertain of myself. I spent the entire day before flying to Italy holding back a flood of tears, and the terrifying reality that I was going to be somewhere I knew nothing about. I am a planner; schedules and consistency are two aspects of my life I treat religiously. I read my earlier journal entries and look back on my worries and cannot help but laugh a little. It is really important to me that I can see that change, I can read and see my growth.
I could go through the dinners, locations, and sights I visited before I departed, but honestly that is not what I remember most about my last few nights in Florence. I don’t want there to be any confusion: I LOVE FLORENCE! In a lot of ways this city is more home to me than any other place I have lived. My experience here has given birth to a newer version of myself; a person I am proud to be and am honored to get to know. But I don’t think that I can give all of the credit to Florence for what has happened within the last four months. I have learned, through it all, that I could be anywhere in the entire world; Budapest, Krakow, Sliema, Barcelona, London, or Florence and it would be nothing to me if the people I loved weren’t standing beside me.
Student Life in Florence does this really awesome thing where they designate the last weekend a no travel weekend. I will willingly admit that when Carli and I saw this we scoffed, how dare someone tell us not to travel when we only had so many weeks in Europe? Ignorant adults, trying to keep us down (Sorry Shelley), we decided we were definitely going to travel, and we left a city in Italy for that last weekend. But then, as the days began dwindling and our focus was more on our SL family than traveling we finally understood; why would we leave this experience for any more time? We ate, drank, explored, laughed, cried, and breezed like we were dying, and at the end of that weekend it kind of felt like we were…
Coming home is something no one talks about. No one tells you that being back in a place you no longer fit is paralyzing; how does one explain to friends and family that this small space you can no longer occupy? No one tells you that jetlag on the way home is substantially worse than on the way to Italy; I spent many mornings exchanging texts with fellow Florence friends at 3 am, doing laundry and catching up on Greys Anatomy. No one tells you that a dark cloak of “there is nothing to look forward to” covers every recognizable aspect of yourself, and you begin to wonder when you’ll be excited again. But the life comes back in the small things; reuniting and reminiscing with study abroad friends, recounting stories to siblings and family, and catching up with people that you haven’t seen in almost a year.
As I make this final travel post, I know its about 3 weeks after I have finished traveling, I must express my appreciation for my people. Carli Pignolet, what would I do without you? There was a distinct time in my life, after the catty high school drama and the backstabbing and the petty girlish games, when I was certain there was no such thing as a true best friend. Someone who sees your highest highs and scary lows and still manages to get you out of bed for a dance party, or pops in a sad movie just to match your tears. There is absolutely no way I could have done Florence without you, and I hope you realize the genuine truth in that. You have stood by me and helped me and tried to understand my recovery for longer than I ever expected, and bottom line is, you have always showed up. While having a friend invest in me so much often scares me, it is humbling and quite astonishing to feel so unconditionally loved.
Even when we admitted to wanting to murder each other after being together for 4 months straight.
As sad as I am to wrap up this blog, it makes me confident that I will continue to excel and discover things through my life. Here is to taking chances, not playing it safe, and becoming unapologetically me.