Barbara's Random Thoughts

Friday, November 03, 2006

Returning, part one of a few

Here is one of a series of Florence picture pairings: 1996 vs. 2006. You've seen the Mr. Right mug spanning two decades. Now I bring you the Centro Linguistico Italiano Dante Alighieri (say that 5 times fast), then and now.

At first, Melinda and I walked right past and didn't recognize the place--it was completely under construction. We doubled back and stood around gaping, then took some pictures. As we did so, the builders returned. Through broken English on their side, and snatches of broken Italian on mine (Melinda didn't even try...), they showed us around the building. The irony of our deplorable lack of Italian skill--upon our return to the language school where we studied--was not lost on either of the two parties involved.

Walking into Via dei Benci, #12, was surreal. It was just school, just where we had our classes and ate our lunches, where we hung out in the courtyard and picked up our mail...but it was a backdrop to so much more. Melinda and I walked down that bare entrance hallway and out into the courtyard strewn with builders' debris, and I found those halls haunted with ghosts of friends and voices from the past. It's always unsettling to return to places that were instrumental in your personal growth, and see an external representation of your internal growth and change.

That experience on Via dei Benci was a bit of a microcosm for returning to Florence as a whole. It was strange for me to return to Florence after ten years, stranger than returning to places from childhood after a long absence. I said to Melinda that it made me feel old, because these are adult memories that I'm revisiting. She agreed, commenting "Florence is where you grew up as an adult." I know there's been quite a bit more "growing up" here where I am now. I wonder how it will feel to return to the Bay area in ten years?

Coming soon: further exciting pictorial juxtapositionings including "Barbara at her apartment door" and "Barbara with a lamppost." I can feel the excitement now.


| posted by Barbara | 12:08 AM