by Melinda Gallo

Living my dream

During my run yesterday, many thoughts came to mind about my life in Florence and a Parisian suburb. When I talk to my friends, I understand that it looks like a dream to be living between two different countries and be able to speak both Italian and French fluently. I didnít get to this point in a day; it took many years of persevering. I remember when I was in my university library studying for my French literature class and how all I dreamed about was living in France. In my early twenties, I wouldíve been content waiting tables or working in a bookshop just to live in France. Fortunately, I got a hired by a French software company that sent me to Paris. France drew me into its web after I stayed with two different French families (one month each) right after graduating high school. Florence, on the other hand, called to me after only spending three days in its embrace.

I was intrigued by both cities for different reasons. I could easily list all of each cityís characteristics and how they fit with who I am, but really that doesnít make much difference. Itís like a friend with whom I just connect. I canít explain it; itís just something that I feel. My friends donít have to have the same interests as me or like doing the same things. For me, what makes my relationships important is how we make each other feel. I try to uplift and support my friends and choose people who do the same for me. Itís not something that takes much effort; itís just how I care for others and how I too feel cared for.

Florence and Paris both enrich me. I receive different gifts from each one. Florence allows me to pay more attention to that still voice in my heart, to be more sincere with myself and others, and to do what feels ďrightĒ for me. Paris allows me to focus on my dreams, to think about what my specialty is, and to think of myself first.

I always wonder who I would be had I never wanted to go to France in the first place and then choose to move to Italy afterwards. Both countries have greatly affected me. Not only do I feel a part of each one, but I feel that each one is a part of me too.

My life is my dream and is what I make it each day. I can choose to be happy or not no matter where I am. Living abroad has taught me a lot about focusing on what brings me happiness and to not let trivialities affect me. After almost twenty years of being an expat, I have learned that my life is what I make of it. I am fortunate to be living the dream I have always wanted for myself. The journey was long (and at times a bit treacherous), but fortunately for me, the journey continues.

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