I knew that when I began this month and year with moving from one apartment to another I would be in for more boxes and suitcases along the way. What I didn’t count on were the inordinate amount of stairs I would end up carrying luggage, bags and boxes up and down. My own apartment was on the fifth floor, no elevator. My daughter’s apartment is located at a strange Harry Potter level between the third and fourth floor in another building, also without an elevator. A great workout if you don’t have a damaged knee. But we do strange things for love, and if that means carting groceries and bags up and down for my beloved sparrow then so be it.

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Arno River, Florence, Italy ©MTHerzog

Hard to believe that my time in Florence is over, but it is, and so is my precious time with my daughter. I’m not sure I will ever get used to saying good bye to her, regardless of whether it is just the beginning of her studies or she is working somewhere in the future. As Shakespeare put it, “parting is such sweet sorrow”, and that is exactly what I feel – sorrow.

Having had her as my neighbor whom I met up with for a meal or cup of coffee, and then the last few days as my roommate again was such a treat. I got to mother her again, and we both tried to make the most of the limited time together. I never thought I would be so happy to see my spaced out, sleepy head and disoriented daughter tumble out of bed and flop over my shoulders in the kitchen again. I learned to treasure the little moments that others take for granted while the children are growing up, but parents whose children have flown the nest will understand all too well.

She is finally alone in Florence, slowly getting caught up in her classes, developing a new perspective and enthusiasm of the city she calls home now, and learning how to manage her own apartment. Based on the information we obtained from various local sources, primarily the real estate agents who are generous with their time and information, we scouted out the non-tourist places for basic household items and food, figuring out how to stretch a student budget in a city geared for tourists. The one consolation I take with me though, is that she is definitely not alone in her situation. Florence is full of foreign students, undergraduate and graduate alike, and everyone is scrambling around trying to find their niche as well.

Talk about déjà vu. I found myself clearing up yet another apartment, discarding everything that was no longer needed or putting together bags to pass on. Needless to say, it was far too soon for me to be packing up and clearing out again, disconnecting the fridge, shutting off the gas, paying the final utilities, and sorting out the keys with the building management. I suppose it is my karma to live among boxes, and if I have to be honest, being tied down to one place has never been my thing, and probably never will be. It doesn’t mean I have to like it though.

So here I am, back to airport hopping over the clouds with an aching heart and painful knees that were put to the test again by dragging my own luggage down. I have to say, that these last couple of weeks proved to me once again why hard shell suitcases are a good investment. They can withstand the torture that a short person on long flight of stairs will subject them to!

European Winter has taken a toll on my body, giving me an unpleasant reality check of aging, and for the first time in my life, I will fly home to Manila and not be able to embrace my parents upon homecoming.

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