“I used to have this appetite for my life and now it’s just gone,” Julia Robert’s in Eat Pray Love, 2010 (based off the novel by Liz Gilbert)
I sit in a café. Alone. It’s a Monday. My Italian class has just let out and I have seven hours to burn until my next one. I order a cappuccino and read the International New York Times. I scope out the booths next to me. The couple to my left keeps looking at me. I know this because no matter how hard I try, I do not blend in in Italy. The amount of scarves and “casual” outfits do not do me any favors nor do I ask them to. I can’t pull off the “I just woke up and threw this on look” that appears effortlessly classy here on Italian women. I don’t turn my head to look at the couple, who are now ordering their second round of Americanos. A French man sits on the other side and asks to read my “Times”. “Go ahead and take it,” I say, all “whatever” even though I haven’t finished it yet. I don’t care- I’m in Italy. I’m content. My waiter’s kind of cute in the mysterious way that makes me want to stay and order another cappuccino, but that ugly voice in the back of my head says, “Calories, Lauren. Watch out for them.” So I pay for the one, foamy beverage with apparently too many calories and shout “Grazie” and leave.
I’m learning. Slowly.
I feel liberated. I feel this insane amount of freedom. I quickly journal it all down trying to capture the moment before I leave it with words instead of a picture.
My thoughts are more real than my photographs. My words more alive than the still pictures I take of my food, my calorie filled cappuccinos, and my carefully crafted outfits. They mean more because they’re all mine. And no one will ever read what’s in the travel journal but me. And that’s kind of beautiful, isn’t it?
See- that’s casual. That’s mysterious.
I walk the streets of Florence, giddy. I mean it, pure giddiness. It’s Christmas morning everyday here and everyday I get a new present. There are people from all over the world whose stories I will never get to hear that pass me on the streets. I wonder where they are going, where they are from, what they have seen, and where they have been. There are shop owners opening up their stores (some ignoring my “ciao” some returning it) as I continue to walk. There’s street artists, and crying babies, and horses in carriages, and stray dogs.
I head into a chapel and sit down. I cry. Not because I’m sad that I’m in a new country alone, but because I’m at complete peace. I feel God’s presence and I feel my own soul has been lifted with my admiration for Florence. I feel my old passions coming back that were left like a pair of abandoned shoes on the side of the road, leaving travelers wondering who could have left them like that.
Well, I am no longer a wanderer. My appetite for my life has come back. And it has never tasted so good.
-just a few snapshots from my week within this city