Italy has witnessed some pretty major transformations and chapters in my life. In January 2005, I arrived in Florence a 21-year old college student that had just taken her first international flight. When I was packing for this big adventure, Italy was so darn perfect in my dreams that in complete and utter naïveté I didn't even pack a winter coat. I was heading under the Tuscan sun, right? Obviously every day would be a perfect sunny, 75-degree day. Ha! Needless to say my mom mailed me my coat after the first freezing (and snowy!) few days.
I left Florence five months later a different person. I arrived a boozing, slightly immature college student and arrived back in Washington, D.C. just...different. I had my own apartment, lived with my boyfriend (now husband), had an office job and just felt so darn grown up. It wasn't one of those I'm-sad-that-now-I'm-a-grown-up things. It just felt so natural and it made me happy. It felt like my time abroad had really opened my eyes and help me set goals for my future.
When I was packing up in 2005 and telling people that "I will be back here, I can feel it" I got a lot of nods and "Yeah...sure." Basically every college girl that studies in Florence claims that she'll live here one day. But for me, I knew it was different. I just knew this place was important for me and my story.
Five years later, when the opportunity came knocking to call Italy home once again, we jumped at it. This time around, we arrived in January 2011, sorta-newlyweds and self-employed marketing consultants ready to experience Italy in a whole new light. We traveled, visited museums, tried new things, met amazing people and matured...a ton. We matured and grew as individuals, but also as a couple.
As we get ready to leave Florence this time around, I find myself leaving a completely different person again. Italy didn't just watch me grow up this time, it watched me become a mother. I can state without hesitation or exaggeration that our life and lifestyle here was the reason we took the leap into parenthood. Without Italy this wonderful little family wouldn't be complete. I almost lack the words to properly express my gratitude to the universe for this.
I think that most of us have a place -- a physical, real place -- in this world that feeds our soul. Calms us. Helps us grow. All evidence seems to point to Florence as being that place for me. In that regard, it feels right to be leaving because I never want to abuse my relationship with this city, this place. I know now, just like I knew as a 21-year old, that Florence will always and forever be a part of my life. Except now, I feel it on an even deeper, more organic level. My daughter was born here and some of the happiest moments of my life are intertwined with Florence -- it's impossible to separate them.
Our move from Florence has been on our minds for quite some time. It's been definite for many months, but I stayed quiet about it on the blog because I really just wanted these last months to be about spending time with friends and soaking in every moment possible. In due time I'll share our new plans, which are very exciting for our little family.