Me, My Heart, and I

by Melinda Gallo

It has been two months since I last ran around the Eiffel Tower. Yesterday morning at 6:45, I arrived at the Champ de Mars, excited to be back in shape and ready to run. I sprained my ankle in June the evening after I last ran at the Champ de Mars. The sun hadn’t yet made it up and the sky was dim as I walked down Avenue de la Motte-Picquet toward the Ecole Militaire. I immediately headed toward the Eiffel Tower, leaving the Ecole Militaire behind me. I felt a surge of joy as I passed under the large, leafy trees on the left side of the large chemin (path). Instead of turning onto the street that passes in front of the Eiffel Tower, I ran to the quai (quay) to go around the Eiffel Tower and see the Trocadéro.

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The moment I step foot on the plane, I begin my transition to the city I’m flying to. Yesterday I took off for Paris for a couple of weeks. To the stewardess who greeted me at the entrance of the plane, I immediately spoke French, “Bonjour.” It’s one small shift that then puts in motion many others, which tend to occur slowly as I fly over Italy and then France.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Viewing the city from another location

Many fiorentini (Florentines) have taken off to enjoy cooler temperatures and fresher air this week, but I prefer to stay in town. It may be hot in the afternoons, but the streets are much quieter. It’s a dream to walk around the city with so few cars and motorini (scooters) passing by. To enjoy the quiet Florentine evening, my girlfriend suggested that we go to the terrazza (terrace) of the Grand Hotel Baglioni so that we could catch a glimpse of my beloved city from another location.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: A peaceful August morning

With ferragosto (mid-August holiday) tomorrow, Florence has become even quieter this week. Many of the fiorentini (Florentines) have left the city and are cooling off al mare (on the seaside) or sulle montagne (in the mountains). Many shops and restaurants are closed for their annual summer break and the streets beyond the centro storico (historical center) are virtually empty. This morning, I was eager to take a walk along the Arno River where I had run yesterday so that I could enjoy the view a little more and take a few photos. I haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy my beloved city as much with all my recent travels.

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My new blog marks the beginning of a new life. I had written in my “Living in Florence” blog that I felt as if I ended an entire book, not just a chapter of my life. So it is no surprise that I am now writing in a new blog as well. I carefully chose the day that I would start my new blog as well as the days of my first two entries. My dad’s birthday was the day I chose to begin my new blog. My mother’s birthday was the date I chose to publish my first entry on Paris because she loved Paris so much, and for my entry on Florence I chose Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici’s birthday. Anna Maria Luisa was the last of the Medici family who donated her family’s art collection to the city of Florence.

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I moved to Florence the first time one month before my 30th birthday. It was a significant time in my life when I had to choose between living a classic life or the life I had always dreamed of. I chose the dream and have been ecstatic ever since. I was only able to stay in Florence for two years before moving back to the US for five years where my life went through drastic and intense changes. In 2004, I returned to Florence (the city of rebirths) in the hopes of healing my broken heart and finding myself again.

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I was in my early twenties when I was hired by a French software company to work in Paris. It was a dream come true for a university graduate like me who yearned to live in France. After staying with two different French families the summer after high school and then studying one year in Lyon, I couldn’t imagine my life anywhere else except in France. It was where I wanted to be and I was ready to do anything to get there.

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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.

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