by Melinda Gallo

Two cities, two lives

Living in two cities is like living two lives. I have two lifestyles that include two homes, two sets of friends, two works schedules, two diets, two languages, and two cultures. Itís a lot to juggle for me, but when I am in one place, I try to be fully present. Now that I am in Paris, I am at peace with my home here. I havenít forgotten my beloved city, Florence. It is always in the back of my mind, but I donít dwell on its absence in my life.

I definitely miss my life in Florence, but my double life has allowed me to grow, enjoy, and appreciate more in life. I have learned a lot about what home is and how to create it for myself. I now understand that home is truly where the heart is. Itís the place you feel safe, loved, nurtured, and accepted. I used to believe that Florence was my only home, but I have been able to transport those feelings of home to Paris.

I enjoy living in two different places. Not just because of the variety, but because of what it pulls out of me. I am able to express different aspects of myself. Itís the energy of each place that affects me. I feel not only calmer and in touch with the rhythm of the city in Florence, but I feel more connected to myself as well. When I am in Paris, I am in work mode and live a more structured life. I struggle with keeping that connection to myself alive as it doesnít come as naturally as when I am in Florence.

Living anywhere different than where you are brought up absolutely has an effect on you. It stretches and pulls you. Now that Iím living in two places, itís as if that effect is doubled. I almost feel at times that I have no respite at all from all the energies that swirl around me. For me, itís when I return to the US that I feel a pause in the movement that is constantly taking place around me. It seems odd since I return rarely and stay only a short while, but I feel its effect and sometimes long for that break.

I know that I am extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to live in my two favorite cities in the world. Itís definitely not simplistic, but rather challenging on all levels. The highs are high and the lows are low. I wouldnít change my life for a second and try to roll with the punches as much as possible. Things are definitely easing up for me after the great transitions of the last year. I am almost able to coast a little bit as I sense that this new year will be more about living fully in the moment instead of shifting gears.

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