As we got off the plane I was having trouble with my heavy carry on bag, which was in the overhead bin. All of a sudden this arm reached from behind me and helped me lift it down then out of nowhere the arms body said, “Langley? You’re from Whidbey Island?”
I knew there was a reason I kept the Langley luggage tag on my bag; this young girl happens to be the sister in law to a girl I went to high school with! Her name is Adriana (If I remember correctly) and even more brilliant, she speaks Italian and was just at La Tomatina. She was on the first leg of a long trip home after living in Sienna for three months where she was learning Italian.
It was the strangest thing to meet someone at the end of what I had just started. She was incredibly sweet, we caught the train to the Pisa train station then she was helping me buy my ticket and missed her train.
After some lunch we took the next one together, she got off a few stops before me. I could not have done all of that transferring so quickly without her though. The girl has some seriously good karma headed her way.
So I get off the train in Florence to switch trains for San Giovanni. It was so surreal being back in that train station, it felt so comfortable and it was the first time in the last couple weeks that I knew and felt comfortable in the surroundings. I even knew where the secret bathroom is, in the back corner so I didn’t have to go buy something in the McDonalds. It made me happy.
Of course I wanted to run out of the train station past the Duomo down Via Cavour to Piazza Liberta and my old home, Hotel Meridiana (where I lived for 4 months when I studied abroad two years ago) but I am not here again for that experience; I am here for the new one.
There were a big group of guys on the train that had just been at a Firenze Futbol game, they were covered in purple and white and still on a high. They sang songs and chanted. It seemed like even the older people that were rolling their eyes at the noise were smiling with a sort of pride at the same time.
And finally, only 40 minutes outside Firenze, I arrived in San Giovanni Valdarno. My first day and the start of the 103 day stay countdown.
The room, house, and town are larger than I expected. Anna from Poland is in the room next to mine. I have a terrace although it faces the back of another street and is a little dirty.
I took a walk around town, just behind my building there was some graffiti in English:
“Welcome back my Love”
I found a foto booth to take a portrait in my anxious and surreal state.