Four weeks later…

I woke up today to a startling realization: I’ve lived in Siena for four weeks, as of yesterday. And even more startling: this is my final Sunday evening here.

I’m already starting to get a little teary just thinking about it.

I seriously cannot fathom how it’s been a month already. It continues to feel like I’ve only just arrived, and certainly like I’ve only just hit my stride.

My Italian language lessons are going well, though I’m definitely very much still a beginner. I go back and forth from crippling imposter syndrome — feeling like the village idiot who can barely speak a word of Italian, especially when my classmates are having entire conversations in Italian that I’m barely following — and being absurdly proud of small victories… like when I get by for a few minutes speaking only in Italian with a local person, or when I help translate for a visiting tourist at a shop. Regardless, I’m finally getting over the nervousness and the fear of looking foolish, and I’m trying, which is actually a pretty big leap forward for me.

I’ve finally started really making friends with people, and one by one they’re leaving. Or if they’re among the lucky few who are staying for several months, then I’m leaving them in less than a week. And for those that don’t know, let me warn you: making new friends in your 40s or beyond is a bitch, so it’s a real delight when it happens.

I’ve found myself looking forward to Monday mornings at school, because a new batch of students arrives each week, and I wonder who I’ll meet this time. I’ve become the unofficial party planner of the group, since I’m living by myself in a large apartment, and I’ve hosted two Friday night events as going-away parties for classmates. And then… I realize that I only have one more Monday in Siena (tomorrow) and one more Friday night going away party (my own).

I’m feeling settled here, in a way that I hadn’t expected that I would. Hell, when I walk into the cafe downstairs, they have started simply asking me, “Doppio?” in the mornings (double espresso) or “Vernaccia?” (my typical glass of wine there) in the afternoons. I’m on a first name basis with shopkeepers, and I stop in and chat on my walk home from school or grocery shopping. (Speaking of which, the cute young grocery store clerk has even started greeting me when he sees me around town.)

How am I supposed to leave, when I’ve finally become notorious here?!

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