I fought the temptation, at least for a little while, but then caved. I flipped through pictures of faces I adored, places more beautiful than any I could construct in my mind, and foods that still make my mouth water. A tinge of longing slides over me, unrelenting. It stirs deep within my chest and digs a pit into my stomach, keeping its hold even after the pictures come to an end.
This longing doesn't take over because I don't care for my life here. The friend's hand that squeezes mine, reassuring me of her happiness to have me back. The comfort of old coffee shops that beckon me back into the calm embrace of music I can hum and sips that soothe. The kick drum I feel crash into me at the live music venue I haven't stepped in to for far too long. The quick turning feet of the little boy riding his training-wheel adorned bike, pedaling fast to pass his dad and giggling all the while as I watch, sitting at the park down the street from my home. My life here in Nashville is not wanting of beautiful moments. But that doesn't mean I don't miss where I was when I spent my semester abroad in Italy.
Here, I go out just to be seen. Here, I forget the little Italian I did learn. Here, I check Snapchat stories instead of living my own story. Here, I lazily turn to the microwave instead of the stove. Here, I drive places when I could just as easily walk. Here, I nap in my bedroom on a perfectly gorgeous day. Here, I miss who I was three short months ago.
When the ground welcomed my plane back into Nashville, my responsibilities welcome me back as well. It's easy to live vivaciously when reality seems to be on hold. In Italy, I didn't have to think about what I will do with my life when I at last hold a diploma in my hand. My balancing act on hold, I wrote, I loved, and I lived with everything I had. So, coming back? Yeah, it's not always easy. Sometimes I long for the way things used to be.
People long for many things-places they've always dreamed of seeing, places where they felt most alive, love from one who refuses to return it, love from one who's no longer alive to give it, a time when life was simpler, a time when they weren't so low on their luck. Longing has its place. It is not a sign of weakness and one who longs for something is not necessarily unsatisfied with everything else.
So, as I sit at this wood table, silently staring at the grain, indentions, and imperfections, I let my mind wander. A simple, happy day aside the Arno river, blades of grass lazily arching over the blanket I lay on. I doze off, warmed by gentle rays and cooled by the soft breeze that teases my skin and plays with the hem of my dress. I wake again, scribble a few lines into the journal beside me and watch a group of young teenagers joke and push each other around. People are walking on the bridge, hundreds of yards to my right and I fancy I see someone I'd met a few nights ago. A deep inhale. Time floats by. I'm removed from this table and my deadlines. I'm removed from the reality that I have an hour to finish this assignment before going to class and making my way to yet another meeting.
Longings are honest to you, even when you aren't honest to yourself. Pesky little things that they are, they're quite hard to ignore. My longings bring me face to face with just what it is that I need: an escape.
I can't always escape the responsibilities of my life, but I can provide myself with little escapes in my day to day. My longing for my days in Italy reminds me to slow down, to cook, to live, to learn, to enjoy the walks as I go on my way. It's through my longings that I am pushed to recognize what I really desire and need.
So, yes. I'm happy with the friends, the coffees, the music, the parks, and the moments that have greeted me since I've returned. But I'm happy too for the tinges of longing: tinges that remind me to give myself escapes from the responsibilities, worries, fears, and habits of my daily life now that I'm back.
Enjoying and learning from this chapter as the pages turn