Somebody once said, ‘all good things must come to an end.’
I respectfully disagree.
In my case, I prefer to think of it as, ‘all great things must come to an end…for now.’
Over the last few months (hopefully explaining my absence from this blog as well) I have been working at the grind to somehow, someway extend my time here in Italy. I’ve explored all the potential options, even so much as to call in a favour with friends in very high positions of power here in the boot, to no avail. Tonight, I received the definitive no. The working holiday visa I have has run its course, and there are no options to transition, while remaining here, to another year of bliss. What does that mean? More on that later. For now, I wanted to write this blog while my emotions are still very fresh and raw over the whole thing.
To sum up. I fell in love. Not with a tall, dark-haired Italian god (as so many of you were maybe hoping for…) but with Firenze, with Italy, with la dolce vita. 2016 has gone by in a blink of an eye. If I close my eyes it seems only yesterday I arrived here, uncertain if I would find work, uncertain if I could be away from my family and friends in Canada…uncertain of what was to come. Yet, here I am, ten months into this little adventure and I feel like I’ve accomplished so much and it’s left me wanting more.
I was blessed to find work here. Work that I actually love doing. Waking up early was my norm. Each day I was excited and so grateful that I was living and doing something I love to do in a city that simply took my breath away. The beauty of Firenze does not fade. The ‘honeymoon’ feeling is just as strong (if not stronger) than my first day here. Every single day, Firenze greeted me with open arms and showed me her beauty…even on the rainy days. Walking to and from work was not a chore, but an experience. Every day I noticed something new I hadn’t noticed before. An intricate door knocker, a building façade with stunning artwork, or an architecturally stunning church that has been around for centuries. Even something as simple as watching people behold parts of Firenze for their first time, made me remember how I felt the first time I saw places such as P.Michelangelo, Palazzo Vecchio or the Duomo. I see the same awe and wonder in their eyes as I have in mine each and every day.
I’ve met extraordinary people. Colleagues, students and friends who, through their own stories of the love of this city, made me fall even more in love with it…if that’s even possible.
Here’s the real kicker. I also have a paramour. Firenze stole my heart, but Cosenza filled the gaps of my heart of missing family and friends. My time spent in the south of Italy was unforgettable, in every way (thanks Nat King Cole) I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world that can boast that not only do I have an incredible family in Canada (the word incredible does not give them justice), but I have even more wonderful family members here in Italy. The lack of a close and deep relationship originated with the physical distance of my extended family. That distance is now null and void and time spent with my aunts, uncles and cousins over the past year has brought me closer to them than I ever thought imaginable. My cousins, are more like brothers and sisters. My aunts and uncles, more like secondary-parents. The love I have for my family here is strong…it always was, but being with them, spending time with them, really getting to know them, has meant the world to me. Going away with just that in my heart leaves me full and complete as a person.
As anticipated, this little adventure has changed me. It’s changed me in some ways that will seem evident to those once I return, and in other ways that I’ll keep close to my heart. A day has never gone by that I didn’t think about my family back home. Yes, there is more than 6000kms between us, but I never felt like they were far away. Daily, I would wonder what they were up to, hoping everyone was happy, healthy and proud of me. I thought of how big my nephews must be getting, how they were enjoying school, experiencing new things, learning, laughing, playing. I thought of my parents, who I know had bitter-sweet emotions of me being here. I thought of my sister, my right-hand. Each day I counted myself as blessed to have such a strong support system who took pleasure in knowing that I loved it here and that I was happy, even if they missed me at the same time.
Despite a valiant effort to smoothly transition to another year here, I am left with no other option now than to go home and reapply for another visa. Yep. All that paperwork, preparing, consulate visits (joy) and planning…I get to do it all again. At this point, getting my dual citizenship is a faint light at the end of the Italian political tunnel. I’m not giving up on that, just to be clear, I just know that it’s not going to help me in my current situation. My intention is to go home, spend some much needed time with family and friends in Canada and regroup. I’ll get my paperwork in order and apply for either a work visa (the golden unicorn egg of visas) or failing that, a student visa, which will allow me to work part-time while also assuming the role of part-time student. The working-holiday visa was perfect at the time when I first got it. I thought, great, I have a whole year to have this experience and I can come back feeling fulfilled. Obviously, things have changed and I’m now looking at a longer-term opportunity. If there is one thing I know I’m good at, it’s getting all my ducks in order and taking another shot.
I know this isn’t the end. Let’s just call it an intermission.
On the brighter side, I can enjoy my last 40 or so days here without the constant voice in my head wondering if there is a solution to my problem of remaining. I know what I have to do once I get home, but for now, my focus is on embracing every last second here. Knowing that my time left this year is limited, I will be heading to the south of Italy at the beginning of December to spend as much time as possible with my family there before heading home.
I’m actually really excited to get home (I won’t be able to tolerate the cold as much as before for sure) but knowing that I’ll be with my family again makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Icing on the cake, I’ll be going home for Christmas, my favourite holiday. What could be better?
As for this blog, this is definitely not goodbye. I’ll keep posting on my progress with the new visa once that starts and will be sharing more photos and stories from the past year here in Firenze, so stay tuned.
Time to roll the credits on the 2016 adventure in Firenze…but it’s not the end….
To be continued…
Baci x sempre