En route back home, to July in New York. Back to big wide roads, super stores, and giant cups of coffee.
Come to think of it, the biggest difference to me between America and Europe is exactly that – size. Bigger is better in the states, and we live our lives as large and loud as we can. We rush around so much, worried we’ll miss out on the next grand adventure.
I know I’m going to go through reverse culture shock. I’m going to miss the better quality of food and the stricter regulations against factory farming and harmful chemicals. I’m going to miss the friendliness of Europeans and the camaraderie amongst fellow travelers. Taking actual time to have a breakfast, lunch, and dinner that we don’t just eat mindlessly. And tea! So much tea, everywhere, in proper cups and kettles! I’m going to miss how the majority of European men dress WAY better, and how much more active and healthier the people live. And hello, celiac awareness… I know gluten-free people who would’ve wept at being served warm, crusty GF Italian bread at a restaurant. Ah, Europe.
But I have missed my family, my friends, my New York. I did cook at our hostels, but it’ll be nice to have my kitchen again and go to the farmer’s markets to find new ingredients to play with. Pick up my running! I need to work out! Also, both Jes and I are planning on spending some time being tourists at home and going to do all the New York sights. We’re going to drag some friends on a walking tour, like we did abroad. Time to appreciate the place we live!
We had such fun this trip. The last two days we spent in Florence. Unfortunately they were Sunday and Monday, so many places were closed. The longer Jes and I spent in Italy, the more we found ourselves even speaking to each other in Italian. And people were often surprised, but happy, to hear us actually speak the language. Sunday we explored and Jes took me to all the important places to see. She spent a month there when she was 16, on a summer study program. We saw the Duomo and street markets and statues and basilicas, and goodness it was all so old and pretty.
We went to the Boboli Gardens, which was the seat of the Medici family.They were incredible and gave us such a view of Florence, after the steepest hills and stairs guarded by the sweltering summer sun. It was so weird to walk these roads and think, this is actually where the Rinascimento, the Renaissance was birthed and stretched its limbs across Europe. This is where Michelangelo and Donatello and the rest actually lived. And the Tuscan hills and little houses, they look like – imagined fancy, rather than somewhere real people still live.
Europe always seemed like a fairytale to me. Like there was no way I could ever really touch it. And it has been a dream to be here. I am so grateful to everyone who helped me take this trip. I am so proud of myself for going this far away and working so hard to be able to pay for it. And I can’t thank Jes enough times for everything. She has seen me at my best and worst on this trip – my neurosis, my Pisces spaciness, and tendency to spout random trivia. After seven years of friendship, she’s still one of the best friends I could ask for.
I’ve learned a lot about myself this trip. That’s a story for another time. But I want to keep tackling my bucket list, and to live my life with as graciously as possible. My advice for any of you who have made it this far, following along with me?
Just go. Do the things on your list, the things niggling in the dustiest corners of your brain. Pull them out from under the rug. Because you’re brave and strong and awesome and of course, BRILLIANT, so go and do them.
You won’t regret it.