It’s difficult figuring out how to say goodbye to something you never properly got to say hello to in the first place. I originally meant to write this blog right after we were sent home – that is, at the very end of February, when the CDC raised Italy’s travel alert level to 3 and the University told us we had about a day to get our things together and find flights out of the country – but I’ve been busy with a rush of work since we got home. I’ve honestly also been a little reluctant to talk about my feelings about the abrupt end of our time in Arezzo while I’m still not totally sure what they are, but time has flown by and now we’ve been back home for almost as long as we were in Italy. My goodbye to Arezzo is overdue.
There are so many things about my time abroad in Italy that I miss, and for the sake of both my heart and your patience, I won’t regale you with long lists of food, art, and places that everyone on my program wishes we didn’t have to leave behind, for now. It’s strange how it’s only in their absence that it has really registered for me that they were real. I still wake up sometimes thinking I have to get dressed (much more nicely than anyone expects you to in the States) and hurry out through Arezzo’s centro storico to class, I occasionally default to Italian to answer simple questions, and I sorely miss the daily (or more) place of Italian coffee in my life. As these things fade from my everyday routine into the realm of memory, I’m struck with the one-two punch of realizing I can’t just pop out the door of my apartment at Le Gagliarde for them anymore and then understanding that I took them for granted in the first place.
Maybe this is a little over-dramatic for somewhere I only got to be for a little over a month, but it’s not like the month I’ve spent back home has been remotely as eventful. I’m also not trying to preach to the choir about what it’s like staying at home – by this point, that’s an experience we all share – but the transition from physically being somewhere thousands of miles and an ocean and a half away from home to not being there anymore, and not really getting to do anything to take my mind off it, is especially jarring.
That being said, and at the risk of sounding sentimental, I can’t bring myself to feel completely crushed by all this. I am genuinely so grateful for the time I did get to spend in Arezzo, and I’m happy that I made the most of as many moments as I could there, so that the memories still feel as real as they do. It’s been a month, but I’m still going to miss it in a year, and ten years, and getting sent home early has only made we want to go back sooner. Being in Italy for a month and a half accomplished certain fundamental things for my education that five full semesters at home didn’t.
So, goodbye for now, Arezzo. I’m sorry our introduction was cut off halfway, and I’m sorry my goodbye is coming so late, but I’m going to come back someday, and I hope you’ll welcome me when I do.