So I just arrived in Florence yesterday, which is such a particular place in the canon of my life because this was the first place I ever really came. When I flew to Milan, it was only my fourth time on an airplane of any kind, and the first thing I did when I arrived there was get on a train here.
It looks the same now, but also totally different. The buses aren’t orange anymore, and they don’t spew out loads of diesel exhaust. The board at the train station is digital now. It isn’t the kind with those flipping, clacky analog cards that cacophonously cascade every few minutes to add new journeys.
But most importantly: I am different. I am not still the sweet, summer child that can only afford to have a picnic on the steps of the Uffizi. I can go inside, now.
And I will. Tomorrow.
And then the day after I’ll go to Rome, and the day after that I’ll fly to Kyiv.
In 2013 I wrote to my best friend Eddy from Panama City: “I’ve been to Florence, but I’ve never been to the Uffizi,” I explained, “I’ve seen but never climbed the Eiffel tower. I chose the Stedelijk over the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Sometimes I regret these things, I think that I wish I had it to do all over again and go to these places, all those ones that you’re supposed to, but then I remember that all that stuff is still there, maybe waiting for me to return.”
And inside of that was my long-held desire to visit, but also the concession that when you travel how I’ve always wanted to travel – namely, some version of forever – that sometimes it’s just not about the things that you’re “supposed” to see. Sometimes you just let your days unfold. Most days, actually.
And see? I mean, i just walked past the Uffizi today. I would have gone in, but it’s closed on Mondays. But I did see the exact steps I sat one out front, the ones that were I had my meager picnic and dreamt of all the Caravaggios inside.
But see? It’s still here. Waiting for me to return.