It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words:
“And this, too, shall pass away.”
The last few weeks were really difficult for me and I’m still not entirely ready to believe that they were. I hate the idea that I could be living in Italy and be unhappy. It doesn’t seem possible. I’m not a person that regrets things very often, I’ve never seen the sense in it. There is something important to learn and grow from in every experience, this has been my belief throughout my life. Maybe because I feel this way I am usually ok with making mistakes, asking stupid questions, and doing things that sometimes have no explanation.
When I came to Italy I knew I had to before I knew it would be good for me. I knew I would come here before I knew why and it didn’t alarm me in the slightest. Half way through my four month stay and I have a creeping sensation of unrest.
In mid October I took the wrong train home to SGV from Florence, I took the direct train to Rome where rather than sleep in the station I took the last train out heading though Pisa. This train ended up being extremely crowded, when I ran to get on board I noticed each window had a man leaning out with a cigarette and each man was looking at me. I considered sleeping in the Roma Termini station, which is incredibly unsafe and dirty. I tried to sneak into first class but it was all sleeper cars and each one was full. I found a spot to stand in the aisle in second class near the only other woman I had seen on board but I still felt all the men leering at me. After two hours of standing a guy offered me a seat which I reluctantly took. It felt amazing to sit; it was around 2am at this point. Then the guy put his hand on my leg, I brushed it away and pretended it didn’t happen. We repeated this back and forth for the next hour then he slumped over and fell asleep on my shoulder. After two more buses, getting laughed at by some Italians, and another train it was 6:30 am and I was unlocking my front door and practically crawling up the steps.
It was horrible. I made up six different scenarios that I could pretend had happened instead of the one that did, but in the end I told my teachers and friends and accepted their sympathy while silently berating myself for making such a stupid mistake. Then I went back to my philosophy; better that something like that happen now than something much worse later and I had to admit I felt pretty proud at my ability to stay calm and make it home without crying and using a white-defenseless-girl in distress exit strategy. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
But the following weekend I avoided people; I didn’t go on the class trip, I didn’t study, and I didn’t blog. I let my dishes pile up and watched shows I’d downloaded from itunes. When I finally forced myself to make plans for Sunday with a friend in Florence he cancelled an hour before and I took it harder than I usually would’ve. I went to Florence and walked around pretending this was exactly what I wanted, then went home early to photograph fruit in my room and go to sleep at 9.
So now I’m here, and I feel like the skeleton of a house firmly planted on the foundation that this storm is good for me. And in my roots I do believe it but I’ve dropped the idea that I have to be happy just because I’m in a place that I know makes me better. And since I let go of it I’ve been much happier, go figure.