by Melinda Gallo

Staying open

Living overseas away from family and long-term friends has opened me to meeting new people and to creating close bonds with others. Itís almost as if my friends here in Florence replace my family; the relationships I have are meaningful for me and hopefully for them too. I often meet people who read my blog and contact me. A few of my friends think Iím crazy because they donít understand why I would meet people who are just visiting my beloved city, but I see it as an opportunity to connect with someone new and to share our lives.

I am also flattered that someone would take the time to email me and ask to meet me. Sometimes there is an instant connection with the person and other times our meeting is the height of the relationship. I have no expectations and therefore am never disappointed if we donít become friends. I have recently met a couple of women with whom I connected immediately.

I met a few expats the other day who said that Florence is full of interesting people. I agree, but I donít think it has to do only with Florence. After living in France and England, I can say that there are interesting people everywhere. I think itís more a matter of keeping oneself open to meeting new people. Sometimes when we are in our home towns, states, and countries, we are not as open to meeting people. When we live in a new place, we are open because we have a desire to connect with the people near us and the place in which we live.

Iím so happy that I live abroad because it keeps me open, hopeful, and eager to meet new people. No matter how long I live in Florence, I have made a promise to myself to stay open even if it doesnít always feel comfortable. I have received so many gifts by living in Florence, but staying open to meeting new people is one of the greatest.

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