Ever since I arrived in Florence, Iíve never wanted to leave it. I generally donít even like going beyond the city limits (and sometimes not even the city walls). However, for the past year, Iíve been going to Paris to work for about two weeks a month. What is interesting is that I used to hold on tightly to Florence as I would a new lover. I almost feared that by not being here, I would lose my connection with my beloved city. But, I have learned over time that I can leave Florence and come back to it easily. I donít like being separated from Florence, but I now know that enjoying my time in another place does not take away from my enjoying my life in Florence.
I enjoy traveling, but I have always kept it to a minimum. I usually go to the US once a year and then off to some other vacation spot. Nowadays, however, I take at least a couple of flights a month and I always have a suitcase open in preparation for my next trip. Iíve become adept at packing my entire life into one suitcase. For every trip, which I think is what keeps me sane, I always select a few books to read and a couple of notebooks to write in. Fortunately, I have an extra pair of running shoes that I keep in Paris.
While my continuous life is in Florence, the long stays in Paris are a bonus. I feel I am a part of that life when I am there, but otherwise, it remains on the outskirts of my Florentine life.
I also try to keep the two worlds separate. I donít bring anything French home to Florence and the only thing I brought from Florence to Paris was olive oil. I like to keep the two cultures and worlds apart. I donít want to put them together to create some odd mix. I enjoy each one enough that I like to be fully present in them, one at a time.
My favorite part about coming back to Florence after each trip is connecting with my friends. I try to schedule lunches, dinners, and coffees with my friends individually. Even though I use FaceBook and email to keep in touch, there is nothing like seeing them face-to-face. Itís a joy to talk, laugh, and enjoy our time together.
Now that I am back in Florence, Paris seems far away. When I sometimes look at the pictures I took when I was there, it makes me smile, but the feeling I had during my stay has disappeared.
I have learned that to enjoy a place (and ultimately my life), I have to be as present as I possibly can: enjoy the moments I have in each city and not look back with regret. I know that I will return to Paris every month, but I still donít take those trips for granted. Who knows when the opportunity will no longer be an option.
By leaving behind my beloved city, I now appreciate it even more. My time here is precious and I try to enjoy each day no matter where I am. Life is always varied and to enjoy it, I have learned to savor it as best I can.
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