That last night in Florence I kept one eye open. I laid there in bed while she did her usual inventory. I could feel her unpacking everything just to touch it. Then I could see her carefully folding everything back. She would sit at the desk as she did at every hotel ripping up boarding passes and receipts. Then she would throw out old empties and ravage the toiletries in the bathroom. She would struggle with her ailing phone and charge up her iPad. All loose ends were tied. She'd said all she wanted. I'd come to terms with the loss. I wasn't using her charger. She wasn't using my laptop. She'd returned my copy of Ernest Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast". I'd asked if she needed money for a taxi in Milan knowing I didn't have it to give. The creepiest part was her talking through me about her arranging so I could have breakfast and be able to stay in the room until 12pm. Now she was reaching. I didn't feel entitled and my invitation hadn't been rescinded. I didn't need her permission to do as I'd planned all along. 


Disclaimer: This is the real, uninformative part of the blog where it gets all emotional and boring...

When I came back to that room I don't recall if she was there or came in shortly after. However, she was angry but that wasn't abnormal. So I don't recall if she was truly angry when I came back or dialing down from being steaming mad all day. I don't know now and I didn't care then. What eventually happened was a dramatic flight from the hotel room. I remember her snatching things and slamming the door. Then I attempted to reason with her via iMessage for nearly an hour. I don't know if I was successful. I don't know if I said the right things. The reality was we were two people who needed a place to sleep for the night. In the morning, she would go her way and I would go mine.

A Tuscan Fiasco

I'd told her I needed a hair day...

The night before she'd declined my grapes but wanted to talk and watch torrents of "Love and Hip Hop". She hadn't realized I'd unfriended her a city ago. She didn't notice how I knew she was keeping her toothbrush far away from mine. There was no correlation when I made my request. I guess to her it was more obvious that I hadn't combed my hair for a week. I'd been rocking a rather militant afro since Rome. I didn't even make an effort to put a headband on it. At first it was about the weather and trying to maintain my cool. Soon it became a statement about my frustrations. It was my way of saying "it's time to go home". So I really needed the room to myself to not only detangle but rethink things. And I did set out to do my hair. However, I got half way through my routine and realized I had a chance to turn things around.


Flavors & Surroundings - Super Mercato Shopping in Florence

I'm a jill of all trades when it comes to shopping. I love a good shoe, to me Sephora is the closest thing to Heaven and a supermarket can be a blinding oasis for my inner chef. I never thought of stores as challenges or safe havens but while abroad they became just that. Places for cultural exploration (or confusion), air conditioning, money changing, phone recharges and refreshment. In London, it was the newsstand with lemony water and Clark bars. In France, it was the open air market with strange smells and tasty delights. In Spain, it was the plethora of ham and tropical flavors of every yogurt imaginable. In Italy, it was just bad. The only supermarket we entered was dark, dismal and had warm Cokes. The alternative was dark, dismal and gourmand. Surely, I want jars of olives, sauces and pasta that was stretched by hand but it isn't practical. What I missed was the variety of a Publix and the access of a Super Walmart. If Rome was bad, Florence was worse and for all the same reasons. There was the dismal and the inaccessible. Then it became whatever works and Sapori & Dintorni.


Highways and Doorknobs and Forts

My last two days in Firenze involved staying awake and active. I had to do whatever I could to avoid the anxiety of leaving and hunger of being broke. Instead of sleeping all day or watching horribly dubbed TV I chose to get up and go out. My mother also offered to send me money in spurts. Well it was per my request so I didn't have much to spend and had enough to navigate back to Paris and home. The day of the Accademia fiasco I'd discovered an alliance banking ATM closer to the hotel. This meant that I could drain my account for whatever could be sent as well as explore. I expected to find somewhere that was off the beaten path for tourists i.e. a small bar, a free gallery. Just anything to occupy my time and spend as little of my money as possible. So I set out to this bank the latter part of the day and had a bit of an adventure.


If You Would Like To See Michelangelo's David...

Know that there are three (not including this one in Sarasota) …


Tactics & Strategies

That evening of boredom, hunger and overdosing was decided long ago by others. I'd been warned about this. Years ago a co-worker suggested that her and I go to Europe for fun. At this point my mind was far from doing anything like that. However, she suggested in a couple of years we'd be prepared and it would be an easy reward. We had both expected to graduate. We had both expected to be able to quit our day jobs. We had both expected to be fit for the journey. We both had never been abroad and she explained that the trip would cost us a fair amount of money. She thought it best to finish school and save for a while and maybe a year or so after that we could go. In that I didn't agree because I felt I had a better understanding of money. She was a lot younger than me and I knew that someone her age would put great value on an amount. I always felt like a few thousand would suffice for a backpacking expedition wherein a younger person saves four summers for a $1000 piece of shit car. I encouraged her not to wait on things as I did and go when she was ready versus prepared. Damn, was she right about waiting, saving and seeing things for how they really were. I had spent so much money so fast I didn't even get a chance to take a picture of it and now it was all gone.

See Here Is My Problem With Florence

Just an hour or so after arriving in Florence we headed to the center. We needed to find food and she needed her 12 Euros. We passed some familiar named places, stopped in others and then found ourselves in an Egyptian protest. Then we wondered around all the shops and restaurants. Soon we found a square with a few vendor tables, carts and a big carousel. While she was taking pictures of seesawing horses and other peoples children I zeroed in on the ATM just behind it. I know I told her where I was going but I doubt she was listening. Once inside the bank I took out 20 Euros as usual and we met just outside. I know she was curious as to what I had but it really wasn't for her to know. Instead I helplessly followed her on this hunt to see the bridge with houses on it. I figured at some point we'd get thirsty and I could change my "big money" for her. 

No Ice Cream

My first impression of Florence was "wow, look at all the people". From the train station, to the streets and in the center there were so many friggin people. The people of Florence are used it. Well the've accepted it. They have adapted to the sensibilities of everyone but themselves. There are the shops for cheap Americans not slurping special ice cream a.k.a. gelato. There are the churches and bridges for photo happy, well dressed Asians. There are oh so many trinkets for the rest of the European Union including crusty bread and Schweppes sodas. When we did come to standstill and the crowds were above us the only thought I could muster is what a decent blur of a place for a couple. If I were happy and apart of a twosome I would do Florence over Paris any day. KimYe got it right.

366, 100, 5 and One (Real Time)

This time (real time),last year I was preparing for the big voyage. This time (in the blog) I was just arriving in Florence. The timing is so strange. In this very moment, I'm thinking about the Florence I didn't get to see. That KimYe wedding just ties up all the loose ends. It is also my birthday, well Friday that is. I am again preparing for that alongside the bigger voyage. Yes, at this very moment everything is packed and I'm ready to go home. Just like I couldn't find a way out of the U.S. faster or a way to "get" Florence - I cannot find my way back home to Florida. No, I still have not found a job. Oh and suddenly theres some drought in housing and my former roommate and I cannot find a place. So again I'm in a limbo much like last year and much like in Florence. 

I have to remember I am here. I mean after all this is my 100th post. I have 93 published, 6 in drafts and this one being typed (real time). If I hadn't stayed optimistic and ate crow and saved face I wouldn't have been able to write anything at all. A lot can happen in five days. I'm not going to make a hard goal of it. I'm not going to force it on myself. I will let the cards fall where they may. For now just as before and once, twice again - my suitcase is packed. I'm ready to go. I was so ready to go June 5th. I was already gone in Florence (I'll get to that). I am soooo totally ready to get the hell out of here. I can't believe I may be stuck here for my birthday. If it happens I'll let my mother amuse me with tokens of affection and re-celebrate later in the month or July. 

So what now that the adventure is almost over? Well is it really? I think it's pretty magical that everything is coming full-circle now. The timing is right. My best friend is coming to get me and he wants to make a road trip of it. We plan on going to Asheville and Savannah. My mother has also suggested she come along. I don't know how this is supposed to work with three dogs, garbage bags full of winter clothes and boxes of Cheerwine but I'll have to see. Trust and believe, I will keep writing and I still have a lot more to tell beyond Florence. I had a stop in Milan. I saw the Alps and my iPod suffered the altitude. There is Paris, Iceland, New York, a few places in between and here. So heres to many places, 365…366 days, 200 more blogs and June 6th and many more.