The other day, I purchased my favorite book in an Italian bookstore. I have my tattered English version always near. Forgive me for making a lot of Eat Pray Love references, but now that I have both copies I am having the best time translating the inspirational experience in its (somewhat) intended language. My friends are always giving me trouble for loving such a cliche book. I am not reluctant to share that the messages and voyage of Liz never fails to inspire me. Although a mid-life, depression crisis did not bring me to Firenze, I think that most, if not all, of the life lessons suffice to my Italian living experience.
“I respond with gratitude to anyone who has ever voyaged to the center of that heart, and who has then returned to the world with a report for the rest of us that God is an experience of supreme love.”
“I am entitled to the enjoyment in this life.”
“The only thing I ever want to know about any place or any person is the story, this the only thing I watch for- never for aesthetic details.”
Special discoveries about this magical place- Italia – where do I begin and how do I finish?
I’m flirting with the Italian phrases. The way I say “Grazie” has become a consistent little game to see how well I can trill my “r”. I always look to see how impressed the Italian looks after I feel like I delivered “a good one”. I love the way the indirect and direct objects snuggle on to the end of the verbs. The language is simply an expression of how life feels today, in the warm sun, that was hiding during a large portion of my time in Firenze. The beautiful part of this is that I feel so able to embrace and envelop the warmth on these perfect spring days. It all feels like such a gift, and Firenze is a different place.
What will I bring back with me to the United States soil, Chicago, Wisconsin, Lincoln Park, DePaul. Well, I think just about everything. I will take back a new found, simplistic appreciation for my senses. I have senses to embrace this precious gift of life, sometimes I feel like I hear the sound of sunshine. My good friend Hallie once introduced me to the idea that God gave us taste buds so we could understand the significance of delicious. We only truly need food for energy, taste buds are seemingly useless.
I respond to most Italians when I can’t communicate my passion for their lifestyles with…”La vita dolce” (The sweet life). I just wrote a few letters to the people who will have an everlasting impact on my spirit. Whenever I am overwhelmed with love for this city and my life here, I simply say the phrase I just mentioned, and eat a Baci chocolate. This chocolate never fails to compliment my explosive passion and ability to taste life’s sweetness. It has also served as a perfect method of communication between my host mamma and me after dinners.
Last week, it was 80 degrees each day. No rain! It’s a miracle. My main realization in Florence after this long, dreary period of weather we all suffered, is that when the sun is shining, Italians become their best selves. I feel like I step out my door and encounter a city of Florentine angels. Everyone’s smiling, drinking wine, giggling, helping each other. Although I can’t pack Florence up in my suitcase, I acknowledge the reality of nature and that the outdoors is a sibling to our well-beings.
I learned once that the reason we hold on so tightly to the experiences embedded deep within us is because we fear something so great won’t happen twice.
May we always cherish the places that make our hearts feel Baci sweetness. May we mindfully cradle our new and ever-changing hearts in our lungs, forever.
Cheers to happy endings and new beginnings. Arrivederci!
Anna Freundl is the Spring 2013 CEA MOJO in Florence, Italy
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