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Archive for July, 2010

I read my previous post and could hear the voices in my head: wait, what? You don’t post anything from April to July and make vague noises about Italy? What happened? How did this happen? What is going on!

Perhaps I flatter myself too much and you, my reader, couldn’t care less about my doings over the last four months. But if so, humor my vanity while I relate the outline of my life in the last few months.

I finished junior year, ran home in a rush to pack for Rome and the beach, stayed a few days at the Outer Banks of North Carolina on a family vacation, and drove up to D.C. to fly to Rome. Exhale. And yes, it was quite as hectic a time as it sounds. But some how, miraculously, I finished the semester strongly and found time to plan and pack for my month abroad while planning and packing for the beach and putting my affairs (i.e. work) in order in the states. I also got to experience the rush and excitement of thinking I would not be going to Rome after all, when my flight was canceled due to the British Airways strike.

But I did get there. Along with five of my classmates, and we proceeded to take Rome by storm.

It was a wonderful time, as difficult as can be imagined, living in strange place with an unknown language and strange customs, but I did discover that my imagined affinity for Italy, stemming from my Italian heritage, is not quite so imagined as I once thought. Italy is wonderful and beautiful, often dirty, often incompetently managed, but certainly the most wonderful place I have ever been. The Italian way of life is very different from our lives in the states which are so often full of structure and regimes, driven by goals for the future. Italy is a land of Romance (literally. The number of couples making out on the streets was something my whole group struggled to become used to), of art, food, beauty, and the superfluous delights of life. Also, Italians are some of the kindest, most generous people you will ever meet. Whenever our group got into scrapes (and we often did) we were invariably rescued by kind Italians only too happy to translate, make phone calls, explain cultural customs, or simply chat about life in the states. In the end, I have fallen madly in love with Italy and am determined to go back one day.

But most of all, being in a foreign country with only nine other Americans forces one to come to terms with oneself. No group of people can live in such close and constant proximity without either killing each other, or becoming extremely close. And thankfully, though tempers at time rose high, we are all better for the wear and I know that I, certainly, learned so much about myself and what I want in life. There is nothing like being removed from all familiar ties to force one to prioritize one’s life!

But yes, the Vatican museums are incredible, St. Peter’s in breathtaking, Florence is awe-inspiring, Tuscany is a fairy-tale, and Cinque Terre is sublime. I shall never forget that month. It was perhaps the very best of my very short life.

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Have you ever wondered what it means to be a die-hard girl? Picture this: laying the sun-burnt grass with mosquitos whirring in your ears while sweltering in the late-afternoon sun while wearing an evening gown. That’s torture. But also, in a very messed up way, it is incredibly delightful!

Viktorija asked me to model for her earlier this week and I, being the camera-whore that I am, readily accepted the invitation. But I did almost regret it, as I lugged huge bins of dress-up clothes down from the top of my closet and daubed incredible amounts of makeup around my eyes. I hate ladders, and I hate makeup, and I really hate itchy grass and midges and mosquitos, but vanity always wins. And, imagining the romantic shot of myself, staring dreamily into the clouds from my sheath of royal blue satin, I was prepared to endure much greater horrors than the itchy grass if only to have the chance of realizing the images in my head. Who knows if it worked, my imagination is quite demanding, but the real point is that, even at twenty-one, I still love playing princess. Give me a dress, a field, an old house, anything, and watch me run riot in my private imagination, if you can get inside.

This summer, in Italy, my princess fascination was particularly indulged by a short stay in a Tuscan castle. What was that? You heard me right. A castle. In Tuscany. And no, it doesn’t get any better. Sadly, however, while I had packed plenty of skirts, there were no evening gowns to be had. Beautiful, gorgeous vistas of mountains spreading out from the shadow of olive groves, and the pale blue of the Mediterranean in the distance, but no evening gowns. There weren’t even any bugs. Except for fireflies, and fireflies are such innately romantic bugs that they don’t even bear mention because they only add to the lovely surreality of the experience.

Today wasn’t Tuscany. And it certainly wasn’t bug-free. But I figure you win some and you lose some, and at least this time around, I got an awesome dress.

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