It’s Sunday morning here on a partly cloudy, crisp morning in Florence. We have now been here for over a week, though it feels like forever. Forever since we laughed at the monkeys playing outside of our jungle treehouse in Sri Lanka. Forever since we swam in the bathtub blue waters of the Indian Ocean. Forever since our travel snafu turned luxury in the Dubai swim-up pool.
Florence is wonderful, as they said. Yes, swarmed with tourists. But we live just outside of the city center and it’s teeming with locals seemingly living the good life. Drinking, eating, socializing at all hours of the day, looking chic yet comfortable, confident yet down to earth. I really like this city. I like living here. Winding through labyrinthian markets, slurping up pasta, washing it down with local wines. I like the cramps in my feet after thousands of wandering steps each day. I like the way the language sings and (though we struggle in language class!) how its melody is starting to make sense to me.
And yet, I feel adrift. There were those first few days. Adrenaline and heartbeats on fire and cheese and spritzes and seeing friends and oh I hoped it would never end. And then, the crash. What is this crash?
Is it that I have been holding it together in the unfamiliar, only to now let down my guard in the more familiar?
Is it that the consumption of this place makes me want to dig in more to my body, exercise, and lead a more routinized life?
Is it that the city's flair makes me want – fashion, art, jewelry, s t u f f – desires that I have not had in months, so thirsty all of the time, unquenchable?
Is it that the wealth and Renaissance and Christian ground feels to me distant, disconnected, and spiritually ungrounding?
Is it that the reality of return – and all of the unknowns of that re-grounding – is beginning to materialize?
I really do not know. I assume it is fleeting. It is how culture shock catches you off guard. I walked into Italy feeling like I owned this transition, would effortlessly steward my kids through this first time experience. How many times have I moved from Asia back to the familiar West? I was beyond this surprise, wasn’t I? And yet, I guess that’s culture shock. It is always dizzying - throwing you off of your center of gravity.
So for now, we dig in. One more week of language school, a quick trip to Venice, day trips from Florence, Chris training for his marathon in the Tuscan hills, all of us settling in and finding our groove.
Also ps – Emmet would now like to become a Florentine mosaic artist, so if anyone knows of any apprenticeships that will accept foreigners in about 10 years, he’s surveying his options :)