Many of the places I have traveled to have left marks on my soul. These tattoos are displayed everywhere I go and with everything I do. My character is a fusion of experience and education: what I have done and what I have learned. So a person can mention a city or country and I am immediately consumed with fond memories – motorino rides to nowhere, mass at a beautiful church, discussing life goals over a few bottles of wine, stumbling upon local dives, home-cooked meals – and slapped with a smile across my face. That’s another perk of traveling; you can be nostalgic without living in the past, for your future holds enough excitement to keep you moving forward.
Sometimes I am fortunate enough to be able to return to these special locations for another batch of memories.
After my mother’s wedding I left the New England coast behind me as my plane rose away from the budding spring towns and headed towards Europe once again. I was to return to the small island of Guernsey to visit a good friend and then fly to Florence for a quick reunion before my summer in Croatia began.
Guernsey has a lot of character for an island so little. Arriving in late May rather than late March made a grand and welcomed difference – I wasn’t chilled to the core this time around. There is a certain comfort in returning to a place. There was no rush to sight-see or explore; I could simply just relax and exist in the company of a friend. I was able to see a different side of Guernsey – warmer, greener, and livelier. I met some of Marci’s friends, jammed out to King Louis, ran along the cliffy coast, and explored a neighboring island on an early summer day.
I find it amusing when people or places that were never on my radar all of a sudden hold a fierce presence in my life. Guernsey had never crossed my mind before 2012; yet a few years later I have been there twice and the Island comes up in conversations surprisingly more often than not. Most recently my dear friend Audrey suggested a book to read: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. Reading that novel created a wonderfully surreal experience when mapping out the little island and referring to places of whose earth I walked upon as well.
A quick flight over the Alps brought me back to the place where la dolce vita is lived every day. Florence, Italy was a whirlwind reunion fused with a tour for my mom and Dan’s honeymoon. Margot met me back at where it all began and we treated ourselves to numerous gelatos as we pondered life plans. My gracious host, Egle, shared the drastic but positive changes in her life and helped plot a surprise. For the first time, I was the person surprised rather than doing the surprising. Tash took the ferry over from Croatia and was greeted at Egle’s door with my screams. In between friends I gave the newlywed couple a grand and heavily packed tour of this incredible Italian city. It is quite special for me to be able to share places of this pivotal life journey with my family.
As I strolled under the warming Tuscan sun I fell back in love with Florence. When I left in June of 2013 the magic of this renaissance city had faded. I felt that my time in Florence was complete and was honestly quite disappointed in how saturated this small city was with loud American study abroad students. There was nothing keeping me there. However, this time around when I wandered through my old stomping grounds with Margot and Tash, the city was alive and glowing once again. The energy was vibrant and buzzing and I was drinking it all in. Surrounded with two girls who are influential markers in my spiritual reawakening, Florence did not disappoint – it got its magic back.
Just like people, we need to experience certain places at certain times in our life. These people, places, and events are pivotal in our journey. They shape us and they offer exactly what we need at that moment. Our time with them is over once we learn everything we can from them. With that closure, we as individuals grow stronger and forge ahead, free from any reigns holding us back.