Me, My Heart, and I

by Melinda Gallo

Me, My Heart, and I :: Indulging in Paris before taking off for Florence

I am a city girl. I have known that ever since I lived in Lyon, France for my junior year abroad. When I returned to California, I dreamt of going to live in another city and was fortunate enough to land in Paris. I am extremely fortunate to call two cities my home. In Florence, I live in the heart of the city, but in France my beau and I live just outside of Paris. It’s incredibly close and it only takes me 20 minutes on the métro to get to the center of town. But for me there is something about going to sleep in the city and waking up to it that I truly miss.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: A jaunt to Venice before the year ended

Before the end of 2014, my beau and I decided to take a trip to Venice. I was happy when he suggested it for two reasons: I hadn’t been there in a long time and I needed a break from the flip-flopping between my two cities. I wanted to go someplace where I could prepare myself for the New Year. I love Florence and Paris and am stimulated by them, but it’s always nice to experience a different place. In that way, I’m able to keep myself open and more flexible for the arrival of 2015.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Starting off my year in Porto

As an expat, I think I travel a little differently than others. Not the actual traveling process, but the getting acquainted with the new place. I look at the place I’m visiting as if I were planning on living there. When I visit places in the countries I know well, like the US, Italy, and France, I want to understand other facets to them. However, when I travel to a new place, I’m eager to find out about the place’s core: the city’s energy, the people, the language and the culture. It’s almost as if I’m interviewing the city to decide if I want to live there even though I’m certainly not looking to live somewhere else.

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Today I'm excited to be traveling to a city (and country) I've never been to. Portugal has always seemed like a faraway land for me even though it's less than two hours away by plane. It's thrilling for me to discover Porto, Portugal and get a peek into this city's culture. I'm looking forward to being to exploring and experiencing Porto. I hope to lose myself for a few days and enjoy this city's energy.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Testing out the third arrondissement

After my three-week stint in California, I wasn’t able to settle back into my “normal” life right away. The day after I returned, my beau and I moved into my friend's apartment in the 3rd arrondissement between the Marais and the Place de la République. For six days while she and her family were away, we lived in their Parisian apartment in a typical Haussmann building. Even though I wanted to ground myself after being away so long, I was willing to put that off so we could stay in Paris.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Paying homage at Père Lachaise Cemetery

Thirteen years ago today my mom passed away. It sounds like a long time ago especially so much has happened in that time; however, with so many memories still vibrant in my mind, it seems like yesterday. To pay homage to my mom, I decided on going to Père Lachaise Cemetry. I had never visited the cimitière (cemetery) before although I did hear about many of the famous people who are buried there, like Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Honoré de Balzac, Colette, Oscar Wilde, and many more.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Exploring and enjoying other cities in Italy

I love discovering more about Italy. I find Italy to be one of the most interesting countries I have ever visited. Each region (and even each town in a region) varies from the next one. Each place has its own charm that can be unveiled, enjoyed, and appreciated. In France, at the beginning of May we had two Thursdays in a row that were holidays. By taking Friday off, we did a pont (bridge), which allowed us to have two four-day weekends. My beau joined me a week after I returned to Florence and we traveled around Italy.

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It’s not that I’m afraid to fly, but I honestly didn’t feel safe in the Avro RJ85 that took me between Florence and Paris. It felt a bit like an economy car that was certainly efficient, but just wasn’t as sturdy. When we hit turbulence, it felt more like we were in a car racing over a speed bump. I dislike, however, thinking that my last moment on Earth could be while sitting on an airplane with a bunch of people I don’t even know. I probably wouldn’t think so much about my mortality if everyone would stop saying, “Have a safe flight.” I used to cringe at the words and once said, “Of course I will; I’m not flying the plane.” Even though my friends mean well, that seed of fear lingered in my head for an hour and a half (the entire length of my flight between Florence and Paris).

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Me, My Heart, and I :: A weekend basking in Paris

Because I live with my beau in the suburbs of Paris, I feel as if I am completely out of touch with it now. We go in from time to time, but it feels more like a quick visit to do something specific, eat out, visit a museum, or go shopping. Each time I go, I never feel as if I have much time to truly enjoy the city, connect with it, and bask in it. I love to feel the rhythm of a place as it flows through me by watching the sun as it progresses through the sky, admiring the change in colors of the buildings, and breathing in the air.

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