When you live in a strange, new place for long enough, you wake up one morning and realize that it isn’t very strange or new anymore.
The cars they drive here are almost completely silent, so often times you can’t hear them when they’re right behind you. To notify pedestrians of their presence, taxis here have this light beeping system that they turn on and off at their choosing. When I arrived in Florence, I used the free earplugs the plane gave me for the entire first week. I couldn’t go to sleep listening to the constant beeping of the taxis. Now it’s just background noise, seamlessly fitting into the city’s sounds.
I used to accidentally greet store owners with an “hola” instead of a “ciao”, and say thank you with a “gracias” instead of a “grazie”. Then when I went to Barcelona last week, I found myself saying “grazie” instead of “gracias” to everything. I don’t think twice about it anymore- someone hands me something, I respond with a grazie.
Last night my friend and I went out. We began our night at a bar close to the Duomo, just having a couple casual drinks and some french fries (the fries we are still not sure if we paid for, but hey, things happen). The second bar we wanted to go to was a good ten minute walk. As we made our way over, we passed a couple American girls clearly struggling with their phones’ navigation. Kenyon (my friend) and I stopped, pointed them in the right direction, and continued on our way. I found myself grinning to myself- I couldn’t remember the last time I had needed to pull out my phone for directions.
Florence is no longer new and strange, but instead has turned into a kind old friend.