by Melinda Gallo

This time I had been hoping I wouldn't have to visit 22 apartments like I did last time. I made a vow to only visit an apartment if it really sounded interesting because a few times I was dragged to areas that didn't interest me and apartments that didn't sound that appealing.

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Normally I don't eat at any restaurant twice in one week. I love to eat out and can sometimes crave the same thing two days in a row, but I still generally don't go to any restaurant that often. I had lunch with Karen and her friend Sandy, who lives in Florence, at Olio e Convivium in via Santo Spirito on Monday. And we went again today.

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I can't remember the last time I took a stroll in centro (downtown) after dinner. Because I usually work after dinner with my clients in the US, I never think about doing anything late at night. Usually, when I'm out, I feel hurried and walk to where I need to go, but I normally don't take my time and look at the well-lit shop windows and watch the people pass by me.

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These past few weeks have gone by quickly now that I look back at them. Initially I felt like I fell into a pool and immediately touched the bottom. After much flailing about and bobbing up and down, I have finally began to wade along the surface. My feet only rarely graze the bottom of the pool now, and with my head above water, I'm able to better assess what's around me.

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I woke up to the sound of rain this morning. When I got up, I opened the windows in my room and saw people in the street below walking briskly with umbrellas in hand. When I looked out to the hills leading to Fiesole, I wanted to smile, but all I felt was sadness.

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This morning there was a beautiful sun piercing the sky. How could I not feel happy, joyful, and full of love as I looked out on my beloved city. The surrounding colline (hills) give me such a sense of peace and strength at the same time. Florence's beauty penetrates my heart and I feel so close to her. I don't feel a need to possess her, but I do want to enjoy her as much as possible.

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These past few weeks I have spent trying to readjust to my new life. I am especially enjoying all the time I spend with my girlfriends who are so present in my life now. When I was married, I seemed to have separated myself from them all gradually. At one point I remember becoming very sad because I had no "real" girlfriends that I could talk to. And, I realize now that I was the one who distanced myself, not them.

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Living in Florence :: May Day

Today is Festa dei lavoratori (Labor Day) in Italy. The city seemed so quiet this morning when I woke up. There were no buses and hardly any cars outside in the street. Almost every shop on my street was closed even though a few restaurants and bars were open. It wasn't until I walked out to Santa Croce that crowds of people seemed to just appear. Because most of the museums were closed today for the festa (holiday), the churches and gardens were busier than usual.

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After having such exceptionally warm weather these past few weeks, today it cooled down tremendously and began to rain. When I walked in front of the Duomo today there were huge crowds of people lining up to get into the Duomo. I had never seen it so busy downtown before. Although for the past few days this past weekend I've said the same thing every day. Either things have changed or I never noticed it was as crowded as it is.

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Today I invited four of my new friends to get together for a drink at a terrace bar that Karen, another one of my new girlfriends, introduced me to. I promised that I wouldn't divulge its location on my blog, and so I am adhering to her wishes.

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With such the huge change has just occurred in my life, I realize that most of the sadness I feel is about the future. All the hopes and dreams that Dave and I built together now have to be buried and mourned. I am making a concerted effort to live more in the present: the only place where I can actually make a change.

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For the first time ever in my life, I decided to run through Florence this morning. I have never done that before in any city that I have lived in. I usually like to run in parks where I'm in an enclosed space and it's acceptable to run, or in the gym where I can regulate my speed and distance.

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My new life in my old city has proven to be quite interesting. As luck would have it, I met one girl a few weeks prior and we have become great friends. Add to that, a few women who read my blog have come to Florence for a visit and want to meet up with me. So I have been busy meeting new people, confiding in them, and receiving a lot of wisdom, joy, and support in exchange.

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Dave and I have decided to go our separate ways. He left for the US this morning, and I will be staying in Florence. The apartment now seems quite empty without him here, but I have to get used to his absence and learn to live alone again. In this way, I hope to find my happiness, which seems to be hiding behind a few dark clouds, once again.

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I've been walking around centro (downtown area) a lot lately and have finally admitted to myself that Florence is overcrowded with tourists. I avoid the front of the Duomo as much as possible because I can't seem to not ruin someone's picture or bump into people backing up as they look around.

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