My planner (and life) is currently full of things I need to do; preparations for Thanksgiving dinner Thursday, the seven papers to write before I leave, lists of what is to be packed or stay in storage, skype meetings with potential internships and random sticky notes of projects to complete, friends to meet up with or plans to finalize.
As I was working today the date caught my eye…..19 November….(yes I have been living in Italy so long that I wrote it 19 November, I almost erased it and wrote it November 19, but I think it’s time I embraced it)…one month from today, I lock my apartment for the last time, hop a flight to London and not return for another five months for graduation. Somehow it feels like I moved into my apartment just yesterday but have been living here for years at the same time. Whether it’s the busyness, lack of sleep, sickness, or actual emotions about closing another chapter, I am not sure but I burst into tears when I realized I only have 30 days left.
After composing myself, I walked outside to “get some air”. I have been doing this a lot lately, stepping out onto my balcony or opening my window and sitting in the fresh air. Winter has come to this sweet town and the crisp chill is the perfect way to clear my head (or wake me up). As I wiped my tears, took a couple deep breaths, and stepped out, the cold shock to my body helped bring the dramatics down a notch. But as I looked out on this quiet, tiny Italian farming town that’s become my home, I realized how much this place has given me and how truly sad I am to move on.
Our lives are made up of a series of chapters, some hard challenges leaving physical scars, others like stones in a river, slowly wearing down the rough edges in places that didn’t seem like they needed the weathering. The past eight months was more than food education, there was a lot of weathering I didn’t know I needed. The quiet, slow nature of Italy calmed me down, taught me patience and appreciation. The community showed me support comes in all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and food preferences.
The chapter labeled UNISG has been a turning point. I think that every single idea I arrived with has changed. I left my country in search of greener grass and something good to eat. I thought I never wanted to move home, instead get someone to pay me to travel the world, eating and writing. I was an overconfident, junk food loving, unsustainable, people pleasing stresscase. Now I may still be a bit of those things, but nowhere near what I was. I’ve learned some skills and chosen to adapt to the person I found here that I wanted to be. Life gives you the education you need for each new chapter, I am a firm believer in that. This chapter is prepping for something exciting, who knows what that is.
Since the second I touched back down from India (by the way, that post is coming but is taking a lot more time processing of the experience to figure out how to best share it), life was in warp speed compared to before I left in October. The constant communication with internship opportunities is making me so excited at the prospect of going home to the US, perhaps even the Northwest. The holidays have me chomping at the bit to be with family and friends again. And the many papers and events give the surreal reminder that in 1 month I am done with classes for my master’s degree. But all these feelings also make me emotional to have only 30 more days at this bizarre food summer camp and then it’s over.
I have the same feeling in the pit of stomach you get on the flight back home after a great adventure. However, in order to play the next great game, we have to finish our current one. Rounding out the last month and prepping for the next adventure is going to take a bit of fresh air.
Now I should probably get back to that to-do list…..
-The Very Hungry Traveler