With Nikki off to Florence I’m doing a lot of reminiscing from home. When I traveled solo for the first time I went to Italy for three months and spent two of them WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) / “that farming thing.” In the fall of 2015 I felt stuck. I was in the middle of a graphic design degree I didn’t want, two jobs I didn’t like and living at home with my parents. I gave myself two months to plan a three month trip (that’s how long a non-EU citizen can stay in Europe without a visa or a marriage proposal) and by the time New York winter slush set in I was depressed and not asking for help (not recommended, I’ve since gone to therapy on and off). I used WWOOFing as a last resort; I ignored my professor’s advice to wait until I was older and my dad’s daily references to Taken. Traveling kicked my butt and I cried almost everyday but I would do it all again. I learned about myself, how the world perceives America, how to have gratitude and that no matter their age everyone is struggling with something socially/emotionally/physically/financially.
SO! With that context set, where did I go? Melendugno, Italy. Wait where? Yup. A tiny tiny coastal country town outside of Lecce, the “Florence of the south.”
I was in the land of lost boys with my new host family of four. . . and two cats-five dogs-and four newborn puppies — the Mancinis; the constant smell of firewood and rain; and space to breathe. These photos show the beauty, the chaos and my lovely caravan abode for four weeks (what you don’t see are the comfy down blankets hidden inside). Here’s a bit from the journal I constantly scrawled in:
“March 14, Even though they (the Mancini family) are kind of crazy I really really like it here and would not change anything. No regrets. I need to remember ‘perché no’ (to ask why not instead of why, a.k.a. to live more fully) and that if I’m not scared, excited or having fun something is wrong.
Today was great. I’ve never sang so much in my life. We worked for eight hours today, I sang away the pain, frustration and poor ideas of self-worth. I need to look people in the eye and stop modifying what I say. Today I chose to be happy instead of tired. I have a sort of inhibitor I can feel when I try to talk to people. It has to do with the not-feeling-important and that what I have to say is not important. I have opinions too! Be open to change. Change is how we grow.”
Two years later, myself and the Mancinis have grown a lot. I am thankful for their openness and the chance I had to meet them.
That’s me on the top of the main house’s roof. Needing even more adventure in my life, I climbed and jumped my way up the day the family left for a weekend trip. I knocked out the WiFi for the next three days.
Catch Ya Later,