by Melinda Gallo

Two months later

Sometimes two months seems like a short time, but then they seem like quite a long time. A lot of things have transpired in the two months since Dave and I split up. He went back to the States, found freelance work as a Cocoa programmer, moved into a new apartment in downtown Denver, and reunited with his friends and family.

These last two months have allowed me to figure out what I really want in my life, who I want in it, and what direction to take next. Luckily some things were very easy like staying in Florence. And others were more difficult like the idea of starting a new relationship.

I have learned one great lessing in my life and that is that the most beautiful things in life happen when I don't plan them. I had no plan when Dave and I split up. I didn't think about my next step.

I didn't plan on meeting new people and becoming friends with a wonderful group of women. And I certainly didn't plan on falling in love with another man so quickly either.

I had always seen Florence as a great city for singles. There are lots of clubs, bars, and events where one can met people. I'm not the type to meet people in this way, but I think it can be interesting and fun once in a while although I haven't done it in at least eight years.

I am also not the dating type I have come to realize. I think I've been asked out maybe two times in my life by men I didn't know. I just seem to know rather quickly if I like a guy enough to try to have a relationship with him. I don't need a coffee or dinner to figure it out, it's something I just feel and know deep inside of myself.

The "friend" that I have been referring to in my blog these past few weeks is now my fidanzato (boyfriend), Alessandro. When we first met I thought that I'd like to take it slow and just wait it out. But I have realized that I can't plan or even foresee how a relationship will develop. I have learned to just be present in my relationships and not look to the future. It's like what Woody Allen once said, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans."

In Italy, the standard way to tell someone that you love them is "ti voglio bene." It is used with family, friends, and even lovers. To express a love that is deeper, stronger, and more significant, they use "ti amo."

For Italians, those two words are worth their weight in gold. I was with my Florentine ex-boyfriend in 1997 almost a year and a half before he said them to me. And, he promised himself he'd only say it to the woman he would marry.

And two months after Dave left Italy, Alessandro said those two words to me.

I didn't know where my life was going to lead me on the many days that I burst out crying at various moments of the day, but had a little bird whispered in my ear that my heart would sing again, I wouldn't have believed it was true and that it would happen so quickly.

And yet, love has come knocking at my door and I swung it open in one quick movement and welcomed it.

Many of my girlfriends think I'm brave (or crazy) for having an open heart at my age, but I think that life is too short to not always be open to love. I am a true risk taker in love. My goal is to give and receive as much love as I possibly can. I don't want to take any of it with me when I leave this world. If I have a lot of love left in my heart that I was not willing to part with at the end of my life, I will feel as if I have failed.

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