Come Hell or High Water (…or Ants)

Hi!!  I’m in Italy!

My mom, stepdad and sister dropped me off and the airport.  I went through security.  I sat down next to a charger in my gate and thought….what now?  Why?  Why am I going to Italy?  What am I doing?  I wanted to gather up all my things, run to baggage check in and beg for my stuff back, and call my parents to not leave the parking lot.  I was so unsure and scared the only thing I could think of was to run.  Go.  Get out of this new and unsure situation.

But, of course, I didn’t.

On the flight over to Europe on Norwegian Air, I learned why the flight was so cheap.  It was no frills and small.  My coworker told me the night before the flight that her pilot boyfriend told her she should say goodbye to me forever since I was taking Norwegian Air.  (Please never tell anyone this the night before they take their first solo international flight…).

But!  Alas, I made it to Dublin.  I slept on the floor on and off for my 11 hour layover.  No one bothered me and I was presently surprised.  One time in Penn Station I sat on the floor for 30 seconds and was admonished immediately.  But in Dublin, I laid down in a corner on top of and intertwined with my luggage and it was all good.


Dublin is a really pretty airport too

My flight to Bologna was delayed.  I was waiting on line with a bunch of teenaged Italians and I think, besides a Russian couple, I was the only non-Italian.  The plane instructions were read in a language that was foreign to me.  For the first time, I was the one on the plane with a different mother-tongue and I was the one that was confused.  It was really in that moment that it hit me what I was doing.  Going abroad with a bunch of Americans to party and study and eat your way through Italy is much different than getting on a plane by yourself where you’re the only one who speaks the language you do and gets the jokes you do and knows the towns you do.  It felt very lonely.  I grew a deepened respect and admiration for immigrants/expats/what-have-you that come to America and deal with not only this scary and isolating situation, but also with constant judgements and prejudice.

Anyways.  I landed in Bologna.  The two Italian teen girls next to me kissed as we landed and I thought a lot about what it means to kiss on a plane, and to have someone to kiss in general, and to fly to or from or with someone.  The exact moment when the wheels touched the tarmac I was thinking “I am doing something very brave.”


I haven’t stopped sweating since I got here

I got to my Bologna hotel.  My driver was a sweet man who told me that only the poor people and the workers were on the street on the weekends.  The rest were at the beach.  The guy that checked me into my room freaked out because a bug flew into his nose.  I went to my room, drank a beer from the mini fridge, ate some pringles, and went to bed.

The next day I walked through Bologna which is a city with lots of porticos and pretty floors.  I didn’t hear any English all day and hadn’t spoken Italian in two years.  I walked into a store through an exit and I got yelled at and, being very confused at what they wanted, quickly left and cried behind my sunglasses very dramatically.  I bought a water from a nonnative Italian man a few stores down and he was very nice.  I made a friend on the train to Florence.


the one, the only, Duomo (not really the one or only….but to me)

Then!  I made it to Florence!  I took a cab to my apartment (because it’s incredibly hot in this beautiful city) and my heart felt so warm.

My apartment is BEAUTIFUL.  I have a room just nearly the size of the apartment I had last time, but all to myself.  It has beautiful floors and a glass door to a very small but private balcony.  It has big big windows that open to a beautiful and huge rooftop garden.  All the glass is covered in lace.  I have an armoire.  Ridiculous and Wonderful and Perfectly Florence.


the morning light in my bedroom

I went to the old alimentari I used to go to and he gave me the same candies.  I walked and walked and walked and got lost and found and saw a bunch of places I used to go.  I went to a new friends apartment and drank wine and walked home with my roommate and we talked about how beautiful Florence is and how lucky we are to be here.  I oftentimes forgot to appreciate Florence last time I was here but I am overjoyed to celebrate it this time.


on a walk I found a man in a trench coat pushing a cart of 5 small dogs

But yesterday a friend texted me about old friends, about possibilities of seeing them if I went to this party I was supposed to go to and I thought a lot about last time I went to Florence and what happened and what happened thereafter and all of the hurt and sad and lonely that comes along with it.  I got really really salty and really really down.

But then, I woke up this morning and meditated.  I made eggs.  I made coffee in that Italian coffee maker thing that I don’t know the name of (Caryn… a little help here?).  I was the epitome of self-care and being gentle.

But then…

The Ants.

The night before we saw a bunch of little ants outside of our kitchen door near the garbage.  We took out the garbage.  Problem solved, right?


I was making my self-care eggs and three tiny little reddish ants were crawling all over my counter.  Ants.  On MY counter.  I am not a bug person.  I almost lost it.  But, thanks to my meditation, I took a breath, killed them (RIP/sorry) and moved the heck on.  I tried to go to a market to buy mint plants but it was closed.  So I went to Conad and bought what I thought was an ant trap (turned out to be a mosquito trap…knowledge thanks to my sweet Italian roommate).  But I am cleaning, scrubbing and getting these ants the heck out of my apartment.


the rooftop garden I can see from my window…complete with a very cute caretaker 😉

Because I did not ask for any of these things to happen specifically.  But.  I did ask to move to Florence.  I begged and pleaded and clawed my way to live here.  And I am owning that decision and all that comes with it.

I downloaded an ebook when I was sitting in the airport in America, sad, unsure and wanting to turn around, called You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero.  Sincero says that our subconscious is what absorbs all the negative messages the world gives us.  It soaks them up like a sponge, internalizing them and repeating them to us even as we develop our conscious — what we actually believe to be the truth.  She says that when we start to make a decision based on what our conscious wants, our subconscious tries to sabotage us.  It makes us sick (ahem.  me last week).  It brings in past disappointments (the thing with my old friend from two years ago).  It invades our space in the most intimate of moments (the freaking ants when I just wanted to make my eggs).  But.  We.  Have.  To.  Push. Through.

If we don’t push through, we never grow past the limitations of our subconscious, the things everyone else has told us to believe.  We never break through the wall to the place where we can get to do what we really desire to do in our heart of hearts.  We never make it to the other side of the airport security line and all that lies beyond that (you like that content continuity?).

After all of these truly minute inconveniences in the grand scheme of life, I am truly lucky to be just where I am.

Thanks for sticking through this long dramatic & sappy post.

Ciao For Now,

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