I have never in my life missed something as much as I miss Italy. And it’s not just the big, life-changing things; it’s everything. It’s the little restaurant we’d stop into between classes, with the waiter whose name we knew and the paninis with cheese and marinara and slimy spinach (okay, we removed that part). It’s the coffee shop near our school building, the one that has now been completely redone but sold Twix bars at the cash register and doled out packets of Dietor in place of the Splenda I use in the US. It’s the nights in Trastevere (too few of them) and the Cheap Bar. It’s French fries (!) at the Irish pub, it’s old ladies getting angry on the bus, it’s the exhaustion after a good weekend trip. It’s our amazing apartment with the crazy landlady and the switch that “turned off the hot water.”
There were bad sides, like the time I almost flew home early because I just could not take it anymore. There was the day I skipped the trip to the Pantheon to sit on the laundry room floor, phone attached to the only outlet that worked, and fight with my (then) boyfriend. There was the disastrous final class trip, where a few of us holed ourselves up in a closet-sized room, chugging boxed wine because we probably would just have cried otherwise. The end, where A and I brought our (then) boyfriends on our spring break to Paris and Barcelona and the four of us had group fights late at night in bars, over fries.
I miss walking through the streets and running into Roman ruins. I miss staring into the cat sanctuary. I fell in love with the Forum and with the Palatine Hill. I fell in love with everything.
Nothing in my life, not a person, not a piece of literature, not a song, nothing, has ever made me feel the way I do about that city, that country. And maybe it’s silly; I get teased sometimes for being the perfect example of this. But the experience? The friendships we forged while we lived together, drank together, almost fell out of gondolas together? Even if it fades, it isn’t ever going to go away. The people who watched me cry, listened to me stress out, ran away from pigeons with me, and removed my facepaint when I nearly killed myself with absinthe (gag) are such an important part of my existence.
In a few months, it’ll be three years since I embarked on that journey. I had no idea that, this many years later, I’d miss it this much. In fact, I cried through the whole trip because it wasn’t “the quintissential study-abroad experience” and it wasn’t completely life altering.
Turns out it was. It was completely, absolutely life-changing, and one of the best things I could’ve done for myself. And one of the only things I know I want for the rest of my life is to have more experiences like this. I can’t imagine a world without them. I just have so much love for all of it.