I have been going back & forth for weeks trying to decide how I should write about leaving Florence. One day I am overwhelmed with sadness that I left there, then the next day I am so motivated and excited to begin our next adventure of life in the United States. My husband and I both agree that this is the true definition of feeling something bittersweet.
When I look back through old blog posts, look at photos of my life in Florence I feel so happy yet so sad to be leaving somewhere so incredibly beautiful. I will never get tired of watching the sunset over the city, over the Arno River and watching the way the light hits the buildings throughout the city. I told a friend once that the magic of Florence is all about the light in the sky. The way the sun hits the colors of the buildings, the way the cloudy overcast sky makes them dark but somehow equally as beautiful.
I will also never forget the people and friendships I made while living abroad. There is no doubt that the friends I made shaped my experience in ways I could never express on paper. Friendships that I know I will have the rest of my life. Friends that are so different from me but we became so close from the unifying bond of being expats. For this alone, I will infinitely grateful to all of them, their support, their laughter, and for one too many glasses of wine :)
I moved to Florence in 2009 because I was searching for something inside myself that made me happy. Getting out of my comfort zone and being put into situations where I did not know the language or understand the culture of the people certainly helped with looking deep inside myself. If I didn't face fear I would of never understand myself better now. Obviously I still have so much to learn and experience but this was a major start and shift for me. Now I am not scared of anything - I face it.... and either succeed or fail - and both are just as glorious.
Having said all of this, I have to be honest with myself. Florence and I are not in rhythm. I love so many things about it, but I never felt completely happy there. I love Italy, I love by husband, I love traveling, I love Italian food, I love many many things about the culture & passion of Italians, but something was off between myself and Florence. I honestly could not tell you what it is- if it was me not being open minded enough, or if it was the Florentine mentality that didn't sync with me - maybe a combination of both. I might have a better grasp on this after moving away for awhile and being able to reflect on the experience of Florence more. Regardless, it is okay.
The bigger picture is that I fell in love with my husband in Florence, I have the greatest friends in the world from living in Florence, and I have a fantastic job with a Florentine company. What more does anyone need ? If I had never moved abroad I might of never have learned how to be truly grateful for my family & loved ones back in the United States.
Advice to anyone that is pondering the idea of moving abroad - DO IT.
Your mind, body, soul will be grateful for it in ways you never imagined.