Last Days in Florence
April 2023. Packing a suitcase for what one hopes will be a memorable trip and repacking that same suitcase for the trip home can be filled with cherished memories, unexpected disappointments, or somewhere in between.
I’ve done both.
The night before Jim and I departed Florence, I reminisced about our two-week adventure by reviewing photos wondering why my heart beat a little faster with some and why I wasted camera space with others. Why did I dig into my purse for photos of a construction site and only one of two monks conversing in the Santa Maria Novella? The photo of the monks intrigued me. What were they discussing? Who were they? The construction site caught my eye for a minute, but I didn’t think about it later.
I took three photos of flowers surrounding a statue and one of a store sign that read: “Life is better in Italian Lingerie?” My take? Flowers are everywhere. But a window sign that declares Italian Lingerie makes life better is worth a chuckle and wonder if it might be true.
The evening I took the photo of the Duomo at dusk, the streets were unusually empty and quiet. I felt I was alone with a magnificent structure built for the Glory of God, not money.
I laughed out loud when I saw the sign that read, “We are all mad here,” thinking there are times in the United States I think that might be true.
I took several photos of a beaming bride and her husband on what had to be their first breakfast as man and wife at a well-known restaurant called “Gillis.”
I fumbled through my purse as I reached for my camera. Quick! They might leave! But wait. What’s so special about a bride and groom at their first meal as husband and wife?
Then I remembered.
My first breakfast at the Big Sur Inn with Jim – my husband and the man I’d married the day before. Just the day before, I was a bride in a flowing white dress. Jim was a handsome medical student standing at the end of the aisle with the gold wedding band we’d chosen in his pocket. He was surprised I didn’t want a diamond. The ring I’ve been wearing for fifty-three years is my most prized piece of jewelry. It cost seventy-five dollars. I have no other ring on my fingers.
The morning after the big day, Jim and I ordered breakfast at a small table at the Big Sur Inn. I kept looking at the wedding ring thinking – I’m married. I’m not alone anymore. That man across the table is my husband, and we’re about to share a life. When the check came, I instinctively reached for it as I had all my life. He got there before me.
Those were my thoughts as I watched the new couple – she arranging herself and her dress in a small chair – he trying to read a menu with one hand and juggling a camera in another.
I thought about those last days in Florence and the photos that will remind me of special moments in a city I treasure with one thought. What made those moments special enough to stop what I was doing, frame a scene then preserve that moment for who knows how long?
Those were “peak moments” when I connected to something inside myself that mattered.