Me, My Heart, and I

by Melinda Gallo

Appreciating my double expat life

I've been living in Florence since 2004 and traveling to Paris for work almost every month since the beginning of 2011. It was only recently that I decided to embrace my life in both cities. I initially thought that I had to choose one place to be my home, but I now feel that I can choose both. By doing so, I am able to appreciate each one more fully. This transition seemed natural to me especially because I believe that love allows us to encompass more in our lives, not less.

For the last year and a half, I didnít allow myself to make a home in Paris, but now with the many personal changes I've made in my life this year, I can. I initially would leave Florence on Sunday and return twelve days later so that I could have two and a half weekends in Florence. I thought that if I were away from Florence (which I refer to as my beloved city) for too long, somehow it would forsake me. Upon each return, I found myself appreciating my beloved city even more. I thought I was missing something by not spending so much time away from it, but actually it ended up nudging me to enjoy Paris more.

While I love Paris and enjoy my job immensely, I just couldn't see myself moving to Paris full-time. I feel almost as if I need Florence in my life. Its unique and powerful creative energy continually inspires and nurtures me. My time may not be completely divided between Florence and Paris, but I'm not worried about my absence from either one because I know they are both in my life now and probably forever.

Both cities have had a profound effect on me and I am truly grateful. Florence continually nudges me to follow my heart and to stay true to myself, and Paris reminds me to enjoy lifeís pleasures.

My first expat experience was in Paris where I lived for over five years. It was with great regret that I left, but my leaving allowed me to experience Florence for almost 10 years (two years in 1997 and these past eight years). Upon my return to Florence, I started my "Living in Florence" blog; however, with each trip to Paris I stopped writing articles for it. I felt as if it wasn't appropriate to write about my experiences in Paris because the primary focus of my blog was Florence. So, now in my new blog, I plan on writing about my life in both Paris (my first love) and Florence (my current love).

I already thought that my life was rich because I had the great fortune to live in a city that I love and that inspires me, but to be able to live in two cities that I love and that inspire me has made my life decadent.

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