Hello again! I'm back in Florence and getting into the swing of my second semester at SACI. Christmas break came and went, and seeing friends and family for the first time since August was more emotional than I'd anticipated. Of course, by the end of those three weeks I was ready to get back and dive into school, life in Italy, and morning cappucinos. I expected to feel relief upon re-entering my "new life" here in Florence, or at least to have an apartment to myself again (though I couldn't ask for better parents, living under their roof at the age of 22 is always an interesting experience).
Then, when I got off the plane in Florence, something odd happened. Yes, there was relief to be in Italy. There was relief to be back in my own apartment and my own bed. There was relief to see my friends and professors. There was especially relief to be back in my studio and in the darkroom. However, for the first time, I also noticed an emotion that I haven't yet felt to a noticeable degree: homesickness.
Well, maybe homesickness is the wrong word. My perception of home has always been closely tied to people; I've felt most at home in Huntsville, Montevallo, and Florida because the people that I care about the most are there. It's not about missing a place as much as it's about missing the presence of people who know me well and with whom I have a longstanding relationship. Florence is home in the sense that most every aspect of my life takes place here now. I love it with all my heart, and in terms of cities (and schools), I wouldn't be anywhere else. However, I've been here for four and a half months. Obviously there's lack of a long-term connections and therefore the safety inherent to those relationships.
This is something that I haven't dwelled on until now, but something about going back triggered this thought process. Spending time with those I am closest to for the first time in a few months served as a reminder to how much those relationships matter.
It's really just another trial in growing up; no matter where you move in your twenties, you are bound to say a lot of goodbyes. My two best friends moved across the country before I did, and I know they've had similar feelings living in a strange city. For me, I think it's so pronounced because I am a literal ocean away and in a country where I'm only beginning to be able to communicate with others. If I didn't bother to consider this feeling my first semester, it's safe to say coming back after visiting family made me acutely aware of it.
In a sense, though, that awareness is a good thing. Coming back from this visit was bittersweet in the sense that, although leaving was harder than I thought it would be, I realized just how much I appreciate those long-term relationships. I'm lucky to have friendships that withstand the test of time (and a few thousand miles). Once I got out of that initial funk, the sadness turned to appreciation.
So, here's to the incredible people back home (or rather in the many cities I consider home) that I hold dear to me. Also, here's to making new connections in Florence. I've promised myself to work on that, or at least make the effort to leave my apartment more. That will happen when the temperature gets above 40*F and/or it becomes socially acceptable to walk around covered in blankets. Fa freddo!
I don't have a ton of photos from my break to show right now, but I promise I was productive! Mainly I shot black and white and I'm processing/printing those myself. That being said, I have some 120 color scans from my few days in Florida. The scenery here is just a little different from the Florence cityscape...
When I was in high school, most of my weekends consisted of finding creepy old abandoned places and taking photos with friends (we only got yelled at for trespassing a few times). This tradition was revived with my high school friend Rachel, who is also a fabulous photographer. The only thing that's different is the camera. Honestly, 16-year-old me might cry if asked to shoot with a Hasselblad...