Today is my 21st birthday.
Who knew I would pen that statement from the second (okay, third) floor of an apartment in Florence, Italy at 1:13 A.M. on a sleepless night.
It’s no wonder I can’t sleep. Gratitude is no somnolent emotion.
So I realize my last post would have served a better chapter in a novel than a blog on a forum. This one will be short and sweet and less text for [less] tired [than my] eyes.
Also, I forgot a few things.
Before we left for Rome, my Historical Perspectives of Chemistry class took a field trip to Officina Profuma Farmaceutia di Santa Maria Novella—essentially the world’s first pharmacy. (I wonder what the 13th century friars would think of Big Pharma. But perhaps that’s another tangent for another Tuesday.) I didn’t know what to expect when I first waltzed into that royal blue foyer but I was intrigued when I found one of the very few frescoes to feature The Last Supper at a round table, the first alcohol-based perfume created for Catherine de Medici (see first blog post), and a most delightful tea room that featured a sweetly aromatic fruits and flowers tea. Yet, I always feel like an impostor in tea rooms. I don’t think I have that much fancy in my pinky finger.
After we returned from Rome, I caught a train to Pisa and knocked item 8 off my bucket list, I ate another gluten free pizza whole, I trekked the deceivingly steep slopes of the Boboli Gardens, I took a trip around the David, I witnessed the Birth of Tourism (okay, so it was the Birth of Venus)—all with my parents. Yes, you read that correctly. In typical fashion, they used my European adventure as a vehicle to fuel a small adventure of their very own. I’m happy for them. However, it was probably the worst thing they could have ever done.
I grew up competing in Scottish Highland dance. With my kilt in tow and my dad at the wheel, I got to see a lot of North America. Never once have my parents been overbearing—they knew I would do whatever I was going to do in whatever way I was going to do it—but never more have they been so supportive. From Miami to Anaheim to Toronto, they were there and I acknowledged them. But it wasn’t until I started doing things like this—embarking on lone voyages to do the work of my dreams—that I truly, sincerely appreciated them. From Tampa to New York to Paris and Florence, they’ve allowed me to become the dancer, amateur blogger, and peanut butter enthusiast I am today.
So back to the worst thing they could have ever done. They checked into a hotel right off the Ponte Vecchio that had air conditioning in the increments of “Alaska”, “Siberia”, and “Antarctica”. They took the picture that documented my completion of item 8. They provided me with a museum pass because students no longer get in free. They bought me food. (Did I mention I ate another gluten free pizza whole?) They bought my roommates food. They constructed a pallet of spare comforters and blankets on the floor of their hotel room so that I, too, could experience arctic temperatures. They let me lead them around the city like the seasoned resident I pretend to be. They did all these things…and then they left. They left and now I miss them terribly.
It’s 3:41 A.M. and I’m still formulating this blog post. A somnolent emotion, gratitude is not; but a perplexing and stupefying one, it is. How do you adequately express appreciation to the two individuals who brought you into this world exactly 21 years ago and then allowed you to flourish so that you may live an abundant life, experiencing the things that often go unexperienced? Sure, with them I saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the David, The Birth of Venus, and the Boboli Gardens, but honestly I could have seen a blade of grass and a water fountain and I would have been equally as content.
That’s just the thing. With 7.125 billion human beings spread across 15.77 billion acres of habitable land, how could life NOT be about connecting with people (regardless of what you’re connecting over)?
Today also marks exactly 2 months abroad.
While I’m fortunate to have been granted the opportunity to study in both Paris and Florence this summer, I’m infinitely blessed to have shared my time with many extraordinary individuals, new and old, native and foreign, who’ve taught me: it’s not the place, it’s the people.
P.S. It’s now 4:20 A.M. and I’m off to the Piazzale Michelangelo for the sunrise…with my roommates, my people.
P.P.S. I found a gluten free and vegan panini café next to the Duomo. GLUTEN FREE AND VEGAN, PEOPLE. Panino Vegano, you will have my birthday business.