Odi et Amo

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“I hate and I love”

It is very hard for me to write this post. It’s my last day in Florence. After tomorrow, a week long trip to my boyfriend’s hometown in Bari, Italy then back in America on November 6th.

All I can say is, you can never be too prepared and I certainly wasn’t prepared enough. I have depended a lot on my life playing out just by following my heart, as it usually does in the movies. But that just isn’t life, and it isn’t easy. Nothing about this is easy.

Yes, I am gallivanting about Florence as part of a greater love story with friends and opportunities but it doesn’t end here. What I’ve come to realize is that once you involve jumping over oceans the scale of everything becomes more intense. While I’m ecstatic and having the time of my life, the other side is, a problem isn’t just a problem, it’s like THE WHOLE WORLD.

I spent my first few days here in a roller coaster of emotions – extreme happiness all throughout the day, awe of my surroundings but by nightfall, I was drenched in tears. I was terrified to leave because now I felt I had so much to lose. This lasted about four days, trying to figure out how the hell I was going to stay here. Unfortunately,  it isn’t as easy as getting a plane ticket and having an Italian boyfriend. Suddenly every obstacle was so much greater and it involved not just people, but entire countries and distances I can’t fathom.

While I assumed extending a tourist visa was possible, upon hours of research and emails to consulates I have found that it is absolutely not. It’s not just hard – it’s impossible.

Marriage was considered, also isn’t easy and probably a little too drastic hahahah

We exhausted every possibility until I finally had to accept, at the end of two months when my visa expires, I will have to leave. While I’m sure some of the guys walking around selling fake Gucci handbags and “selfie sticks” aren’t carrying official visas, I’m not willing to take the risk of getting caught and never being allowed in Italy again. I want to come back and grow old here and be one of those old ladies that still ride bikes. in heels.

And so about two weeks after arriving, with much chagrin, I purchased a flight back to the United States.

I have to leave this place. Again. I have the opportunity to apply for a student visa and return in January which also involves lots of hoops to jump through and money to be made. Lots of what if’s and unknowns, also not easy.

More than anything, when I was forced to make the decision to go back to the states, I felt embarrassed. I felt silly and like I had somehow failed all of the people who believed in me. There were so many people who in some way expressed that they were inspired by a young girl who just did what her heart told her to. I don’t want to let them down.

The most important thing that I (and anyone else) can take away from this is how I did it all for myself. I made a decision and I followed it through, I even made the most of it. Being here I have developed friendships, connections, opportunities and so many more personal things that make me a stronger person.

At the end of the day, the only way I can justify this is by insisting that this experience is immeasurable. Failure is not an option here.

The only easy part about any of this was falling in love with this place. Florence has a pull unlike any other place, and it’s not just me saying this. Even ask the Italians that live here! Time moves differently, there is a feeling I cannot describe. Every place has it’s own personality but Florence, she really is something else. I almost hate this place because of how much I love it. Following my heart was easy, it’s all the other stuff that makes it hard.

Like anything, though, you need an equilibrium. You can’t have easy without hard because that wouldn’t be any fun, anyway.  So next time, I’ll lead with my heart but have a little more logic, just a bit more sureness following close behind. And I can guarantee it won’t be long until I’m back again.

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