This past week, I had the pleasure of reading the book A Room With A View by E.M Forster. Not only did the book help me see a different side of Florence, but helped me gain a newfound appreciation for certain parts of the Florence abroad experience. I must admit, I recently have been feeling a bit tired of Florence and wishing I could just go back home. I miss my family and home friends a LOT, and feel like I have spent enough time outside of my comfort zone. Of course, I love to travel, but it is difficult to be away from those who you’ve spent your whole life with for four months. In the novel, Lucy Honeychurch is a naive girl about my age introduced to Florence on a tour with her older cousin, Charlotte. The two of them navigate life in Italy and the personalities they meet along their journey. While I have not been fortunate enough to find the love of my life abroad, I have made many friends along my journey. This past weekend, I visited the Amalfi Coast with a friend of mine whom I have recently become much closer with. Just as Charlotte and Lucy have their differences but travel well together, so did my friend and I.
My friend at the beginning of our trip got sick and so I looked after her for the first day. Throughout the trip I realized it was increasingly difficult to travel with this one friend but attempted to make the best of the situation. One thing I have learned about traveling with one other person is that you rely on them for much more than you think. Not only as a companion but also as a source of safety, understanding, and adventure. The personality of the individual you bring along with you will determine how smoothly (or roughly!) the journey will go. Lucy and Charlotte endure several strains in their friendship as Charlotte tells someone a secret Lucy entrusted her with.
My favorite line in the novel is “The joys of life were grouping themselves anew. A drive in the hills with Mr. Eager and Miss Bartlett – even if culminating in a residential tea-party – was no longer the greatest of them.” I interpreted this as Lucy being transformed through her experiences in Florence. She had witnessed a murder and thought differently about things- even those she once enjoyed brought about unfamiliar feelings. And I think in a way, that is what travel has done for me. It has pushed and expanded my notion of what is comfortable and what is familiar. Luckily I have not been in a situation where I have witnessed such a traumatic event as Lucy had, but I don’t think an event has to be that traumatic in order for one to be transformed. My mom and I joke a lot because each time I visit a new place that I love, I tell her I’m going to live there someday. She always responds with “Annie, you want to live everywhere!” And I think it really goes to show that each time I fall in love with a new city, I fall in love with it wholeheartedly. In the moment I say that, I seem to forget about each place I’ve been.
Lucy is at the point in her life where everything is new and exciting. She is sought after by many young men and her eyes are opened to life in new cities. Living abroad has shown me that this is just the beginning. My eyes are continually being opened.