Before I begin this short narrative, may I begin with the fact that I hope one day, everyone finds their "Christina."
I called her the day before I booked my flight (which was about 3 weeks ago) and half-joked, "wanna come to Italy with me?"
she responded with "obviously," and I didn't take that too seriously. But when I told her I booked the next day, she was insulted I didn't wait for her.
Me: So we are actually doing this?
Christina: Yes, I told you, Obviously! Seriously.
Me: ...you're seriously my best friend.
As I am writing this, I can't help but think that this time last night, I was still in Italy, packing up the rest of my belongings and dreading the journey back to reality.
As sad as I am that my little adventure came and went, I am even happier that it actually happened.
Why? OH, well, because, I ***thought*** my passport was in my top drawer; I decided to check two days before departure to confirm, and to my anxious surprise, it wasn't there.
I tore my room apart. I went through garbage. I called everyone that could have possibly remember seeing it. Uh-oh. I may be screwed.
I put my pride aside and asked my mom to help me look, and after hours of here re-tracing my steps and not finding it, I knew I was going to be screwed.
Now, it was the day before departure and my passport was still MIA. Who do I break the news to first, my "little" who I was visiting, or Christina, who was accompanying me and dropped money on a plane ticket...
Christina was first.
And somewhere in between that decision, my friend Corey texted me and I wasn't in the mood to make small talk with anyone. I told him I was at work and had to focus on figuring out a way to get to Italy. And honestly, thank God Corey texted me, because he lead me everywhere I needed to be.
I called the NY Federal office and they had no appointments left; I read reviews online, which all read that it was essentially imperative to have an appointment. And on top of that, my work shift ended at 2 p.m. and they closed at 5 p.m. There was simply no way. I went on the website to look up other locations and noticed a Philly one, where somehow, I got the last appointment of the day for 10:00 a.m. which was still cutting it extremely close, considering my flight was at 7 p.m. at JFK. (airlines recommend arriving 3 hours ahead of departure when flying internationally).
So before the sun even rose the day of my flight, I had passport photos printed, my authentic birth certificate obtained, and a lot of hope. I picked up Christina at 5:00 a.m. and we were off to Philly.
The reviews highly suggested arriving well before opening, which was 8 a.m., so we wanted to be safe and get there at 7. I was third in line and my appointment was bumped up-- I was promised a 99.9% guarantee that I would have a passport in my hands by 1:30 p.m.
Christina and I held onto that and spent the morning-afternoon in Philly changing our dollars into euros, eating cheesesteaks, and getting our nails done.
I waited in the lobby from 1-1:29 and to my relief, I was walking out with a passport by 1:35. Did that just happen???
Next stop, ITALY!
We landed at 10:20 a.m. in Rome and had to take a train to Florence.
I haven't been abroad since Australia, and even then, I had the advantage of being in a country without a language barrier. So somehow, Christina and I navigated the airport, managed to purchase train tickets, and survived transferring stations numerous times.
We arrived to Florence around 2:30 p.m.
Seeing my "little" (Audrey) for the first time since she left was everything I never knew I needed. She seemed so much more independent and confident with just two months of being gone-- I needed to be more like that at this point in my life. I needed her to remind me that I could. We explored the city and enjoyed family dinner later that night. The food... The wine... everything was to die for. I'll never be satisfied with American "Italian" ever again.
I could not believe I was waking up in Italy. Today's agenda was brunch with a view and experience italian night life...
Check and check. All I have to say is... that wine sneaks up on you when you least expect it.
Sunday was a surprise-- but not a very good one. We thought we were leaving Monday morning, but when we discovered the last train from Florence to Rome left at 12:30 a.m., we knew we had to leave that night in order to make our plane. We did some souvenir shopping, enjoyed each other's company, and headed for dinner around 8:30 (Italians eat dinner later than we do).
All in all, I know this trip may sound uneventful... but it was everything I needed and more. It cleansed me. It gave me that realization that life is too short to get caught up in what makes it ugly--focus on what makes it beautiful and the people who are present with you.
I feel brand new.