Journeying to a new place usually starts out the same, you dip in your bubble wand into a soapy mixture of fluid assumptions. You get on a plane, train, or automobile bringing up the wand and starting to blow a bubble. As you meet people and places for the first time and you start to process things. You create a hub and explore; blowing your bubble and expanding the familiar. It can be difficult and scary at first. You don’t want to pop, but eventually the newness becomes old and comfortable. The bubble solidifies and your control over its growth changes from large adjustments to subtle ones as the structure bends floating through the air. Over time you shift through the space as the bubble finds its equilibrium. After habits are formed your understanding changes, and you can think back to your initial perceptions with how right or wrong you were. I’m always amazed at how much a bubble can change taking new shapes, slightly distorting reality as it shifts through different lights.
My bubble for Florence has gone through many changes as I often venture to other cities coming back with new ideas, friends, and fresh eyes. Every new café, restaurant, or store I venture into reveals a taste of Tuscany. Each new view I see upon my return reveals the city’s uniqueness. Every local and tourist I meet lets me see its personality. The more I navigate around Florence the more it becomes like an old friend. I know our familiar conversations; like the walk to school I can predict the rocky spots and the lulls. I enjoy the new ones where we face new topics on unexplored routes. Our relationship matures with each week just like the nature around me. Spring is giving a breath of life to the city and as I grow more comfortable, the greenery grows. The most pleasant surprise of spring I’ve grown accustomed to is all the wisteria giving my bubble a sweet, purple haze. It’s a smell that traditionally reminds me of my grandmother, its her favorite scent. Yet, now as flowers fall from the heavens through out the city I will always remember Florence as well.
I find my Florence bubble carries two different nostalgias; the city’s nostalgia for the renaissance and my own nostalgia for my family. The main attraction of Florence for the world is its preservation of the Rebirth. Iconic landmarks and strong traditions whisky you centuries away though modern brands and selfie sticks pull you back to the current age. Maybe it’s this iconic history which prompts me to think of my own history. While my family is always with me in spirit or via a face time call where ever I go, Florence reminds me of them more than any other place I’ve inhabited. I often think about how they would see what I am seeing; which painting would be my mother’s favorite, how many times my grandmother would say ‘wow’ as she passes by the Duomo, what my best friend would say about the ancient roman influence of this and that, or how much faster my brother would devour the pizza in front of me. Thinking of my loved ones helps me look for things outside myself and reminds me just how lucky I am to be the one experiencing Florence. It’s interesting how we take things like this with us. Our memories shape us and our bubbles, but despite the thought of bubbles as a boundary they are always open to change.