A last Florentine hurrah...

Palazzo Vecchio (and Piazza della Signoria) viewed from the Loggia dei Lanzi20130808-192953.jpg

Sculptures in the Loggia dei Lanzi 20130808-193831.jpg

Palazzo Vecchio – with the copy of Michelangelo's David (replacing the original, which stood at the Palazzo's entrance from 1504 until it was moved to the Accademia in 1873) 20130810-090237.jpg

View of Il Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio from the Palazzo Pitti, at the base of the Boboli Gardens 20130808-222424.jpg

Neptune working his magic in a pool in the Boboli Gardens 20130808-222436.jpg

Upper Terrace in the Boboli Gardens 20130810-085525.jpg

The flower market in the arcades (and a silly-looking me) 20130808-194039.jpg

***** Home base in Tuscany — Centro Studi (CISL), San Domenico

And... it's all over. (Putney Excel Oxford/Tuscany 2013, that is.) 20130809-101201.jpg

A final sunset at Centro Studi 20130810-012232.jpg

We walked for the last time as a group of forty-six, in silence (excepting the rolling of so many luggage wheels), at 2am, to the bus at the end of the narrow road. The kids' raw emotion stirred memories of my own teenage goodbyes long past. They've been so completely immersed in the successive adventures that they've shared over the past month that the program's end snuck up on them in a way that underscores its momentousness. Bidding each other farewell, they were simultaneously rejoicing in the deep bonds they've forged (and relatively quickly) and discovering a novel kind of potent, preemptive longing for their new friends.

In a way, I envy them both their trust in these new relationships (specifically: their belief in said relationships' exceptionality and assured longevity) and the potency of emotion they're experiencing. It's a strange blend of feelings that I can remember well, now that I'm reflecting on the sensation, but it's been years since I've felt it's psycho-physiological effects. Hmm..., I think this is one of those nostalgic recollections of youth's "golden hours".... I feel lines from Romantic poets creeping (indistinctly) to mind. Yeats, of course, too. Sure, it's "no country for old men," and I wouldn't want to revisit the tortuous territory of adolescence for long, but it makes me a bit sad to realize that I don't know when I last laughed or cried in happiness like that. Nor can I remember a recent occasion when I actively lamented a finite stretch of time's flying by or yearned so openly for a friend. And yet now that I'm recalling such instances from the past, I feel a resurgent echo of that bittersweet pining.... Fleeting summer adventures. Spain. Sweden. Spending time apart from my best college friend who was for so long also my better half. Missing my family while living abroad. Receiving letters and cards from continents — or just a few states — away. Returning from breaks in the grad school academic calendar to reunite with friends and resume our sustaining routines. Practicing together, with our extraordinarily talented teachers. Establishing that kind of fast-yet-lasting friendship that blossoms when interests overlap in a circumstance that involves concentrated time spent.... I miss you all!

So, dear friends: please know that I'm thinking of you more than ever. I'm smiling to myself as I think back on specific fun times we've had, be they extended excursions or incidental visits sneaked in on layovers or long weekends. I've had so many adventures with the best of partners in crime! A very lucky girl am I. And on that note, I'll sign off for some sleep — maybe I'll dream of some of our so-very-good times.

Ciao! 20130808-223856.jpg