"Push it out of your mind." I would tell myself. "Focus on the good, not the loneliness."So I thought about the good. Florence is really beautiful. I have found inspiration here. The city is brimming with secrets, centuries old stories hidden in every wall and crack of cobblestone. They beg to confide in you as you stroll by, to touch you the way they have been touched by dukes and beggars alike; to them you are no different. My classes only emphasize the intrigue of the heap of old buildings. From the on-site visits to museums and famous landmarks, to the field trips around Italy that allow me to fully feel the power of Renaissance Italy. They force me to take the time to understand, process, and appreciate, instead of checking things off a list. Learning the works of the masters and distinguishing their techniques and applying it to my own work. I feel joy from learning about all of the humanity that has happened here. It is a beautiful thing.
"But when am I going to start finding myself?" I would ask. "It's not fair that everyone else gets to study abroad with people they know from school." I feel guilty when everyday isn't some incredible adventure out of an artsy YouTube video.But I have my afternoon walks around the city that reveal a more modern Florence in all of its golden glow. Tourists crowd and choke the streets, sprinkled in with the dings of locals' bike bells as they try to navigate them. Vespas fly by instead, not even trying to dodge the foot traffic. Get out of the way, or get run over. At least with the horse drawn carriages you hear clomping hooves on the cobblestone coming from miles away. Fabulous ladies young and old strut around in outfits I can only dream of wearing, their little dogs the perfect accessory. You can’t walk a block without inhaling a lung-full of cigarette smoke, and the occasional smell of sewage, contrasted with the smell of fresh pastries and slow-cooking meats. Stores and restaurants fill every block, from high end to low end, tacky to classic. Some displaying the great and historic crafts of Florence, and other knock offs for tourists' pleasure, but somehow it all works. No matter the day, all winding streets I seem to walk down lead me to the Arno. There is something mesmerizing about the Arno, and the small patches of greenery towards the end of the city, if you can find them. Territories of stillness, where one can feel their own breath, transported in an instant worlds away from the crowded, smokey stone and marble. They keep their own rhythm apart from the city, a slower, steadier beat. It’s a place where it is still enough to process that city around you, to feel its soft tugs on your heartstrings. A place to think "Perhaps I am alone sometimes, but my heart is full." Perhaps expectations should never be lived up to and plans never fully executed. There is beauty in piecing things together.