The time is finally here! It is the week I’ve been dreaming about for months! In just 3 days, I will be back in my own bed in my own home in Jacksonville. I’ll be eating my favorite foods, enjoying American Netflix, and not worrying about speaking English. I won’t have to worry about whether I have Euros or if a restaurant takes American Express. I won’t have to write a weekly blog post or read 60 pages about witches (which if I’m being 100% honest I never did anyway). I won’t be working or studying, at least not immediately. I should be filled with excitement, and of course I am, but I’m also a little more nervous than I expected to be.
I came to Florence as an escape from the cold Spring semesters of New York and from the judgement of everyone I knew. I was able to kind of disconnect myself from my home life. Going back means being thrown right back in the middle of it all. Going back means I’m officially a senior, even though I still have no idea what I’m doing. Going back means I have to find an internship or make something special out of the summer. Most importantly, going back means returning to everyone and everything I know, which has its ups and downs.
My family is very close. My mom, her dad, her 2 sisters and almost all of my siblings and cousins live within 10 minutes of each other. The entire family is together at least once a week, even more over the summer. This would be great, except that part of the reason that I chose to study abroad when I did was so that I could try living as the gender that I felt comfortable with. Over the past four months, I’ve gotten longer hair and acrylic nails. I’ve started wearing makeup and women’s clothing almost every day. When people ask, I tell them I use female pronouns. Going back home means that might have to change. The problem isn’t my immediate family, but my extended family, who I can’t really escape. My mom and my sister, who lives in Atlanta, know a little bit about how I’ve changed, but the rest of my family is expecting to see the same old Jordan walking through the Jacksonville International Airport, not some girl with hair down to her ass and baby pink acrylic nails.
In spite of the challenges and the fears, I’m still excited to see my family. I think being away for so long has given me more confidence to present myself the way I want. Now, the happiness of seeing myself in the mirror or in pictures the way that I have always wanted to be seen or being called ma’am in public, overpowers the fear of coming home to judgement. The fact that I have absolutely no desire to stay in Italy is also a factor. I am tired of being stared at and fetishized or completely misgendered. I have gotten to talk to two trans women living in Italy about their experiences, and it’s made me more and more ready to return to New York and start a new chapter of my life.
The experience of blogging every week has been difficult for me. I’ve always had a problem with consistency, but writing down my thoughts every week has been a process of growth and discovery. I’ve noticed a progression in my writing where I become more and more honest. I stopped saying the things I thought I was supposed to say and started saying what I want to say. I think that’s also been happening in my personal life. I’ve stopped being the person that other people want me to be, and starting living as my authentic self. For that, I’m thankful to Florence.