by Melinda Gallo

My own rebirth

For me, June was a difficult month. I felt the need to let go of a lot of things (including relationships with friends) in my life to see what would naturally stay and what would not. I felt a heavy silence come over me and even thought my well had run dry. I wasn’t sure if my tank would fill back up again. I wondered if I should stop writing my blog and if I had anything more to say about my beloved city.

I was in the US at the beginning of June. I decided to take a break and stop writing my blog during that trip. I was a little scared to stop because I didn’t know if I would start it up again. But, something deep inside of me told me to just do it and in time the answer would come to me. Because that desire to write seemed to be so hard for me to grasp, I wondered if I had lost it forever.

I made a point of being in my hometown on June 1st because it was the day my mother passed away ten years earlier. I had decided to visit the cemetery where I have only been a few times. I imagined myself pouring tears over her grave and letting go of some of the deep sadness and loss that I’ve been feeling for so long since she left this world. But two things happened that I didn’t expect. The first was that there was a funeral being held only a few feet from my mother’s grave, which didn’t allow me the space to cry. The second, and most significant to me, was that when I hovered over the tombstone and read her name on it a voice inside of me said, “She’s not there.” I was startled by the words, but really felt they were true.

The rest of June I spent figuring out how much grief I could let go of and how much will always be a part of me. Even a broken heart that has been mended still aches. Life does include sadness, and maybe it is supposed to so that we can appreciate every ounce of joy that comes our way.

After stopping my “Expats in Florence” column in the Florentine in May and the “Viola Corner” one in June, I wondered who I was as a writer and what do I have to say.

I felt empty without my desire to write as if I were half-dead inside. It’s an odd sensation when something that is so strong and vibrant inside of you just disappears. I tried to be calm about it, but honestly I was stressed out. I dove head first into my work, which allowed me to not have time to think about my writing. I started taking photos again of my beloved city, which surprised me because I wasn’t sure what I felt about Florence. Its beauty still touched me even in my moments of darkness and I felt a need to share it. Unfortunately, the desire to write about it didn’t return as quickly.

A few things disappointed me about what’s happening in Florence, so I did find the desire to write about that. But I wasn’t satisfied with expressing my grief at changes that were occurring. I wanted to rekindle my love for the city, which I felt I had lost. My blog is only one aspect of my writing life, albeit an important one. I have a few books in the works that I thought about in June, but felt no desire to even look at.

June really took me for a ride and it really wasn’t until the first day of July that everything shifted for me. The entire last week of June, I felt I was in a pressure cooker. The air in the city was hot and heavy, noise levels were at a high, and a general discomfort settled upon the city. When the sky turned grey, the light became dark, and the thunder finally sounded, I knew that relief had arrived. The rain poured from the sky and only afterwards did everything seem transformed.

I woke up in the middle of the night with words dancing in my head. I jotted them down and they kept coming. “I’m back,” I whispered to myself, sitting at my desk in the dark while the city on the other side of my window was quiet and empty.

In the past couple of days, my passion to write was reignited with a power so strong that I wonder now why I even doubted its return.

The entire month of July, I am staying in Florence. Many of my friends are taking off, but I am so happy to be staying here to soak up the city and enjoy it as much as possible. Because I’ve been traveling a lot this year, my vacation is staying put. I’m mostly excited to work on my writing and follow my passions where they lead me.

To have my writing faucet be turned back on is like sitting on a mountaintop and taking in a deep breath. I’ve been brought back to life. This is just one more “rebirth” in my life. And it’s no surprise that it has happened in my beloved city where only magical shifts take place.

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