Me, My Heart, and I

by Melinda Gallo

A sense of home

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I have been in California for the last two weeks. I came here for a conference that my company organized and am now just enjoying my time before heading back to Paris. I love coming to California because I get to spend time with my family and friends. One of the most special gifts is when I get to reconnect with friends that I havenít seen in years. Itís interesting to see how our paths went off in different directions and then cross again years later.

Because I worked at the conference, I was completely immersed in my work and didnít even have time to think about writing or even my beloved cities. Itís only now that Iím able to allow my mind think about Paris and Florence. I have been looking at pictures that other people have been taking of Florence on Instagram and I feel a slight pang in my heart. I left Florence on October 7th and wonít return for another week. This is probably one of the longest trips away from my beloved city since I moved back in 2004.

While in the US, I am constantly being asked what I miss from California. I, of course, miss my family and friends the most, but after that, I miss little things that remind me of my life here as well as my childhood. I love to eat anything with cinnamon, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, barbecue ribs, corn on the cob, biscuits, bagels, and so much more. Some of these items I can either make or get in Europe, but there is something special about coming back to my homeland and eating the food that I grew up on. Itís no surprise that they are called ďcomfortĒ foods.

The oddest question I get from Americans is, ďDo you not like the United States?Ē I find it odd just because I donít dislike the US at all. I actually love my country even more after being away from it and seeing it with fresh eyes. I do prefer to live in Europe, but my choice has nothing to do with the US. I love my life in Paris and Florence. I love speaking two different languages, living in another culture, eating local foods, and integrating into a world that I wasnít born into. I feel that my life is richer because of the time I have spent living abroad. I am and always will be an American; however, I choose to live in Europe because it fits me better.

I think that everyone should try to live in another place, not necessarily another country, but just away from where they were brought up to gain some perspective. I have found that living abroad has stretched me in many ways, allowed me to discover who I am, and shown me what the world has to offer.

As I spend my last few days in the US, I relish the time I have here, enjoy it to its fullest, and prepare myself for my return to my two beloved cities. I donít like pondering too much about the past or future and try to focus on enjoying the present moment as much as possible. Each day I am here in California, I feel as if I am regaining strength. There is something powerful about returning to your homeland when you live far away from it.

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