I visited Florence yesterday for the first time in fourteen years. I so appreciate the opportunities life has given me to live there for five months at a time—twice!— once on sabbatical and once teaching in an education abroad program. Still, Florence has very mixed memories for me, since I was rocked by some of the lowest moments of my life there.
I hadn’t really been thinking about the significance of Florence in my life until I set eyes for the first time on the bus stop where I stood late on a freezing December night in 1999, pummeled by the worst news any parent can hear, news that even today I cannot bear to put down in words here. On my second stay, I dealt with several days of news that pales by comparison, but is still awful to remember—the wildfire that seemed certain to destroy my home thousands of miles away. That time, I got luckier.
I am indeed blessed to have the life I have now, but sometimes, like yesterday, one gets ambushed with things that seem safely put away, but are never as far from bursting out again as we may think. All we can do is acknowledge what we cannot change, and honor our memories, even the ones we most wish we did not have.
it ambushed me