I’ve been home for a month now, and it’s been difficult. The first few days were great—I hadn’t eaten a Dorito or a sour gummy worm in almost a year, and that alone was worth flying home for. But as soon as the thrill of Taco Bell and unlimited television wore off, I started to miss Rome. I miss my neighbors, my favorite pizza place, the guy I used to buy fruit from. I miss the metro, and the noises of people in the streets, yelling and laughing and (often) being louder than necessary. I even kind of miss the weird group of Italian teenagers that would gather around the neighborhood dumpster every Thursday night between 11 pm and 4 am. Although I have no proof, I assume this was for drug related reasons and not simply because they enjoyed the ambiance of the dumpster. Somehow, the latter would be more worrying.
Now that I’ve been home for awhile, I think its finally time to make an attempt to move on, and as I have learned from years of observing my emotional guru Dr. Phil, the first stage of moving on with your life is closing the previous chapter. So this is it, folks! The last blog post. In order to get full closure by way of The Dr. Phil Moving On Method (patent pending), I want to take a little time to thank everyone involved in my Study Abroad experience. To Emma Gottbrath, who I frantically emailed back in December of 2014, begging to be let in to the program, and who personally called me with the news I had been accepted to Rome: thank you. Thanks to Amelia McKean, my web content editor, who gave me the opportunity to make fart jokes on the internet, so long as my farts took place somewhere within the European landscape. (Additionally, Amelia: thank you for still finding me funny and charming, despite so many fart jokes.) Thank you to my professors at Arcadia in Rome, but most especially Dr. K, who led by fearless example every day and always had a good story to share. To the friends I made: thank you for pretending to laugh every time I called the Pope “Frankie” (in retrospect, I see now that it was really only funny the first dozen times).
Emotionally, Rome has proved to be a difficult place to let go of. If I’m honest, moving on from my Roman adventure has been a lot like getting over a break up—even though I’m long gone, I bring up Rome constantly in my conversations, name dropping places and events even when I know no one cares. I’m always correcting people on their pronunciation of Italian words, and at restaurants, I get personally offended when pasta isn’t cooked ‘al dente.’ I never thought I’d turn in to the type of person who gets banned from a Sbarro for yelling about "authentic crust", but here I am and there’s the mall food court I’m no longer welcome in.
So, you might say I’m having a bit of trouble letting go. But in keeping with the moving-on plan, accepting that Rome is in my past is an important step. To do that, and to stay true to my love for the dramatic, I need to say one last goodbye:
Even though I’ve left you, please know that this isn’t a break up letter—its a love letter. Time and circumstances may pull us apart (isn’t that always the way true love works?) but a part of me will always be with you. At the very least, you stay ever vibrant and alive in my memories.
I wanted to take something of yours, a small little token to bring out on the rainy days ahead and remind me of you, but I couldn’t do it. I even picked up something—a small stone from the Orange Grove, but I had to put it back. I couldn’t bear the thought of taking a part of you and claiming it as my own. Yours is a history built upon thousands of years of invention and reinvention and to claim any moment of that as my own feels both selfish and arrogant. In your history, there have been millions of girls like me. I have been here before, and there are many Me’s in your future. But in my history and future, there is only one you.
I’ve been looking through photos of us—photos I took of you, photos we took together, candids full of joy. It hurts my heart to know that it’s really over for us. Maybe someday I’ll come back. After all, the universe has a way of putting people back on their paths to cosmic destiny. I’m sure next time I see you I’ll look quite different, and though we’ll both be older than we were when I left, I hope you never change. Stay just as you are, loud and abrasive and charming. I’ve changed already, but you knew that. You changed me—I became more confident, more independent, quicker to laugh and more likely to eat with extreme gusto. For all those things, I can only thank you. I miss you, I will always love you. Addio mia bella Roma. Grazie.