Bitter Sweet Goodbyes …. And Gelato

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The last few weeks of March were bitter sweet. I am tempted to say more bitter than sweet, but in all reality, they were simply amazing. Although I had to say goodbye to everyone I met in January at Linguaviva, co-workers I had learned so much from, and roommates I had grown to treat like sisters, I also got to make some memories I will never forget. The amount of goodbye parties, dinners, socials, and outings I attended lately always left me feeling a little bit emptier inside after each one, as I could finally see the end in the near future. We have built a little family here. A multi-cultural, multi-lingual, diverse in every way possible, family. Allow me to introduce you to my roommates who were forced to spend three months by my side. As I infested our apartment with my multiple sicknesses, they bought me chocolate bars, picked up my prescriptions, and continually bought toilet paper as I used it up roll by roll blowing my endlessly runny nose. Most of this was even done without complaining and I love them for every memory they have helped me create.

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First, Ella, the one who gets to share tea and crumpets with the Queen (AKA British) This spunky young thing is out to make her mark on the world and, if I do say so myself, seems to be on her way to doing just that. She sleeps like a log, never waking as we dropped plates in the kitchen at 4am, she likes “CHIPS AND CAKE!”, and told me one of the best “we know, but she doesn’t know we know” stories I have ever heard. Thanks for the tons of laughs, being so laid back, and joining in on my ridiculous behaviour sometimes.

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Next, Sofia, that girl from Mean Girls (AKA South African). This avid tea and hot chocolate drinker survived life in Italy without eating pizza OR pasta… You poor gluten intolerant people. Her delicate personality and appreciation for a good art exhibition made her a wonderful person to have around in this historic city. We got along perfectly despite our differences in food preferences… Never have I ever seen so many sardines eaten by one person, you go girl. You are so smart and talented in everything you do, I can’t wait to continue following your travels via blog.

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Last but not least, the mysterious one. There’s always got to be that one roommate who you only ever see like once a week, who only ever mumbles a quiet “good morning” or “hello” as they pass you in the kitchen. It was never a mystery, however, to whether she was home or not (except for that one week…). We could blame “thin walls” for a few things, but we won’t. I don’t really know you, so I’m going to go with the classic high school yearbook quote and simply say “Goodluck in your future endeavours” oh, and take that damn sign off the bathroom toilet. Cheers. (No picture available at this time)

That only leaves Lauren, the desensitized American with a brother named Kevin. Without this girl, let me just say, I think I would have ended up like the above roommate… Huddled in my room for days on end yelling into my Skype. Alone. I could devote an entire blog to our events as a team and the developments in our ‘relationship’ ;), but I won’t. I will simply say that in three months this girl became my best friend, my partner in crime, my comedic assistant, my dinner date, my study buddy, my right hand man, my left hand man, the person I discussed life with, my sister, even my daughter at times, my photographer, my pick-me-upper, and my most favourite American of all time. At many times it was just like hanging out with myself, but in the best possible way. They say when you travel on your own, no one will ever understand because you’re the only one who has seen what you’ve seen, done what you’ve done, and felt what you’ve felt, but we shared even those things. In fact, on most occasions, nobody understands our conversations… I can’t image what my life will be like without her by my side in everything I do. As our favourite Italian proverb goes: “If you can’t live longer, live deeper”, I think we lived very deeply for the last three months with the help of each other. And even took a few crazy chances, which is sort of unlike us… But hey, Sopravvivere.

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My last day in Florence was perfect. Walking the streets casually, having a delicious lunch after visiting the market, enjoying free champagne, taking in one final apperitivo, getting gelato from Neri, riding the carousel, sitting on the bridge with Sebastian for hours, and then finally hitting up the secret bakery before saying a very teary goodbye. Although I hate all of the goodbyes I have had to say, I wouldn’t change the fact that I met so many wonderful people, even if it meant having to say those goodbyes. I now have so many places I can visit in the future all around this beautiful world.

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Finally, as you all may be wondering…. YES. THEY’RE HERE! Wendy and Mom are finally here to take in the rest of this adventure with me. We have been so busy having such a wonderful time. From spending Mom’s birthday in Cinque Terre, to silly pictures in the Boboli Gardens, to markets in Parco Della Cascine and San Lorenzo, making several mistakes while also doing so many things absolutely perfect, and climbing thousands of stairs (literally) to see every view of the city including Fiesole by night, the famous Duomo and Bell Tower, and the panoramic views at Piazzale Michelangelo. Needless to say, they deserve a break. We have discovered new calf muscles on Wendy, guilt-free indulged in pastries and gelato, band-aided and re band-aided blisters (amateurs), taken more ridiculously hilarious pictures than most people take in their life time, and became masters at uncorking wine bottles (not so much champagne bottles). Mom has learned that the men walking up to her pushing flowers in her face are not actually GIVING her flowers. Wendy has learned the importance of cardio and that “it’s only a few blocks from here” doesn’t always hold true. I have learned that not everyone sees beauty in the same things, but that sometimes the smallest things are more beautiful and create better memories than the big things.

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We are currently sitting on our train to Roma, spending a rainy day travelling the countryside, soon to arrive at our destination. We will make sure to keep in touch with people and try to not get too out of control. You know us, always getting into some kind of trouble….

Until next time,
Your Italian Armstrong(s)
(I also have no idea why half of the writing is red. I apologize)

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