by Melinda Gallo

Being thankful

Even though Thanksgiving isnít celebrated in Italy, I still paused and gave thanks today. I didnít have a special dinner to go to, I didnít see any family members, and I didnít have the day off. But Thanksgiving, I realized, isnít about all of that: it is about being thankful. And I am.

I am thankful that I live in Florence. Not just because I enjoy the city, feel at home, here, but also because it constantly stimulates me--both emotionally and mentally. When I walk around, I am inspired to write and take pictures to capture my cityís charm. I am also constantly learning in Italy, not just words and expressions thanks to the rich language, but also about people and the world, and especially how I fit into it all.

I didnít choose Florence by making lists of what I wanted in a city. I moved here, thinking Iíd stay only for three months, and after three days, I had a feeling come over me that I was home. It was a sensation so strong that I never went back to live in England, where I was before I arrived here, or France, where I thought I would always go back to.

I walked around these last two days while the rain was on a break after sticking around for what seemed like weeks, and just admired my beloved city. The air was crisp and instead of smelling exhaust fumes from the passing cars and scooters, I smelled the wet earth, trees, and leaves.

The colors of the buildings seem washed out against the pale blue sky. The long, knotted branches twist up toward the sky are bare with only a few leaves still hanging on. And the river is full, its color that of milky tea. It swirls around in a multitude of directions and I could get lost in its movement.

The streets are a little less crowded. The rain and cooler temperatures donít call people outside like the sun does. A few of the streets have Christmas lights strung between the buildings, but only some of them are turned on at night while others are left unlit.

I feel a sense of joy when I walk around my beloved city. It is constantly true to itself. It doesnít pretend to be something that itís not. It is evolving constantly and when I pause to look, I see the many changes that are taking place.

Florence feels just right to me, like finding the right lover or companion in my life. I donít ask questions about how we fit together. I enjoy each day, I accept the many gifts it offers me, I focus on all of its wonderful qualities, and I appreciate it for welcoming me. I am thankful I found my way to Florence, and even more thankful that I found home.

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