Well, it's a long story...but I'll try to make it brief. Grab una tazza di caffè (a cup of coffee) and settle in. ;)
Last year, after passing a rather BIG birthday *ahem* and making significant changes in my life, I thought of what I wanted to do...what I REALLY wanted to do. One of those things was to visit Italy. I had always admired the country, the food, the language, the culture, and the people...it was about time that I stop dreaming and start DOING. So, I made the decision - in 2011, I was going to visit Italy. Finally!
Being the intelligent person that I am, I figured that I really should learn how to speak Italian...since, you know, it would make things a bit easier for me when I was in the country! I had dabbled a little with the language before and knew how to say such important phrases like "Dovè il gabinetto?" (where is the toilet?), but I was far from being able to have an actual conversation with someone. Unless, of course, they asked where the toilet was...and even then, I would only have been able to point and grunt in the direction of said toilet, because I wouldn't have known how to actually give directions.
I looked online to see if I could find some Italian lessons and found a website that had free language lessons. Free? What can be better than that? So, I signed up and started taking their lessons. The way it worked is for each lesson, you watch a little video, do some activities, and then submit your exercises (some are written, some are oral) to be reviewed by native speakers, and then you review other folks' submissions in your native language. Pretty cool!
A few days after I started taking the lessons, I received a review on one of my submissions from an Italian gentleman. Nothing out of the ordinary there...I had received several reviews from Italian men and women since I had joined. But...there was something different about this one. I couldn't put my finger on it, but there really was something about it that was different. I thanked him for his review and went about my next lesson.
The next day, I received a "friend request" from him on the language site. With "friends", you can submit your exercises direcly to them for review. I accepted and we began sending each other our exercises - mine in Italian & his in English. Then we began emailing each other and chatting via the chat function on the language website. Before too long, I noticed that I was really looking forward to chatting with him every day. It rapidly became my favorite time of the day.
One evening, we were talking about the fact that I wanted to visit Italy. He volunteered to show me around Florence if I ever decided to visit there. Well, of course I wanted to visit Florence! Duh! We began making plans for my visit. Originally, I had thought to go there in May, around the time of my birthday. I ended up changing that time to mid-April. I would be there for Easter...and, as luck would have it, his birthday!
The next few months went by & before I knew it, I was boarding a plane to Italy. I had never been outside of the US...except for Canada & I don't really count that as being out of the country. In my opinion, visiting Canada is more like visiting your cousin's house.
Florence greeted me with beautiful clear blue skies and green mountains. I was in love with the country before I even stepped off of the plane. The best part was finally meeting Simone. As I exited the baggage claim area, passed by security, and walked through the door to where the public area was, I saw him standing there. Oh my. He had a huge grin on his face and he was even better looking in person, which I didn't think was possible. He opened his arms and I fell into an embrace that I will never forget.
The 15 days that I spent in Italy went by entirely too quickly. Simone & I were together 24/7 and leaving was incredibly difficult for me. I knew I would have to return...and soon!
Now, in just a couple weeks, I will be once again boarding a plane to Italy. This time I'll be staying 25 days and during that time, I will get a taste for what it would be like to live there. I must say, I think I'm looking more forward to this trip than I did the last trip - if that's possible! I hope to be able to update this blog while I'm there, so that I won't have to send a bazillion emails to people who are curious as to what I'm up to while I'm in Italy (for CHRISTMAS!!). We'll see if I actually do update this. I tend to flake out on these things after a few postings. ;)
Oh, and by the way...I'm happy to report that since Simone and I started chatting last fall, we have not missed one day without talking with each other. It's been over a year now. I'd say that's pretty impressive! :)