My usual café is packed with American students; not a seat in the place; so different from when I was here in 1959. I was one of the first of the junior year abroad students to walk the untried territory. How do I know this? Because I had no American friends the entire year I was here. My college and I were making it up as we went along.
As a result, I learned to be on my own, to be independent, to not be lonely. Solitude became my preferred way of being, which may surprise those of you who know me because I can be extremely social and gregarious. Meyers-Briggs tells me I am right in the middle on the introvert-extrovert continuum.
From time to time, especially when I come back to Florence, I ponder what effect that year so long ago had on me. Maybe that’s why I keep returning. I want the answer incised in my mind/body/spirit just as dates are chiseled into the stones of Florence.
My answer on this misty, cloudy morning is the gift of being at peace with myself and very grateful for my life.