I've been coming to Florence for a year shy of a decade to write. On more than a few occasions I've recounted how it's been one of my dreams to have the opportunity to write in a place like Florence (or Paris, or Rome, or a Greek Island, for that matter) for an extended period of time while living the Bohemian lifestyle of making art during the day, drinking wine and eating the food in the evenings. I've experienced all that and more. Luck and Providence have shined down upon me, and I'm forever grateful.
You're sensing a big But here, aren't you...
Okay, here it is. Buttttt....this time around I'm sensing something different in the air. Perhaps it has something to do with the political climate...the global political climate shift, the demise of the left and the rise of the populist movements in the US, Britain, and now, yes, Italy (I saw a photo the other day snapped this past April that showed Obama, Cameron, Hollande, Merkel, and Renzi standing on a balcony together, confidant smiles on their faces, all of them having little conception of the fact that they would all be gone, minus one, in just a few months time). Or perhaps it has a lot to do with my present stage of life. I think they call it the 'sandwich generation' when your young adult kids are still unsettled and your parents, or parent in my case, also requires attention. But, and I'm going to be perfectly honest here, the peace I'm normally accustomed to in Tuscany has thus far eluded me.
--While jogging in the park the other day, teams of police were rounding up African immigrants/refugees, all of whom were resisting, tossing empty beer bottles and angry fists at the cops. It was a frightening scene.
--American college kids walking, or should I say swaying, their way home, a couple of them literally vomiting in the streets.
--The cash register attendant(s) at the local grocery store who is so nasty and so obviously hateful of my Americanism, that the simple banal process of purchasing a few items is a humiliating experience.
I'm not going to belabor the point because there's still so much to love about this place. The food, the drink, the culture, the Noir at the Bar reading I participated in just last week...a terrific success and a blast. But there's something not quite right and it's tough to put my index finger on it. Perhaps it's just me and where I'm at in life. People change and sometimes the cities you live in change along with it, in every bit of that moveable feast sense of the word. Or, maybe, just maybe, you change and the city you've grown to love stays the same. In fact, maybe you're the problem. Maybe it's had enough of you and it's time to move on to a new city in which to write. A new experience. A new inspiration.
Or, perhaps I'm looking at this all wrong. Perhaps I need to shed those things that are getting in the way. Peel away the layers of skin that are bothering me. Freeing myself from the ever increasing weight that makes me feel at times, like I'm drowning in a sea of other people's needs and frustrations. For sure I should be turning off the goddamn internet when I'm working.
You can't be all things for all people, no matter how much you love them. You can only be you. Florence has always allowed me to be me, to write well, and to live well. It still is that place, but like a boat that's become untethered, I feel it drifting away. Think I'll grab the line and pull her back in.