by Melinda Gallo

For the past few days, Iíve been picking back up my daily abitudini (habits) that I have when Iím here in Florence. I go to Vivoli or Giacosa for colazione (breakfast), shop for food in via dei Neri, and visit my friends who work in centro (downtown) when Iím out walking around. One of the nicest feelings is when Iím walking down the street and someone I know calls out to me, ďCiao bella!Ē I love that in Florence, people I know take notice and have even become closer to me now that they see me less habitually.

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This morning when I went to the rosticceria (rotisserie) to buy something for lunch, one of the guys struck up a conversation about my being in France so much. I told him that I was only away for two weeks, but that for my next trip I might be staying away even longer because of the holidays. He said that it must have something to do with the Frenchman I came in with last October. As soon as I smiled, he winked and said that he was happy for me.

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After my brief stay in Florence at the beginning of the month, Iím now back for two weeks. While I was in Paris the last couple of weeks, I felt a bit unsettled. I didnít do anything special for my eight-year anniversary of when I moved back to Florence. I also didnít do celebrate Thanksgiving although my beau treated me to foie gras for dinner. It wasnít until I was in Paris that I realized just how much my life has changed this year. Itís almost as if the basket containing everything in my life was emptied and left for me to sort out. Iím still letting things exit my life and allowing new things to arrive. And even though everything is amazingly wonderful, I feel a sense of loss. Itís as if nothing yet has settled and Iím unable to move forward.

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After working in Paris for two weeks, a trip to the US, and a weekend stay in Paris, I finally returned to Florence on Monday. When I got off the plane, I took in a deep breath of air. The sweet scent of the Tuscan countryside tickled my nose. The air was warmer than it was in Paris and I felt my body relax. I was finally home after being away almost an entire month. It was the first time that I had been away this long from my beloved city since I moved here in 2004. I missed Florence, but fortunately I didnít long much for it.

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