Much like New Year’s Day, September has always been the mark of fresh start for me. Maybe it’s the many years I spent as a student and the feeling that back to school entices, remembering the smell of fresh notebooks, newly sharpened pencils and everything being organized, planned out, and color coded. I remember the electric buzz in the air on campus; reuniting with friends, getting back into a routine, and the excitement of starting new classes.
Or maybe it’s the fresh, crisp air at the beginning of fall that makes summer feel like a vague, distant dream. Almost like the euphoric fuzziness you feel during a carefree night out with friends around a dinner table, laughing and talking as you lose track of time and how many glasses of red wine you’ve had.
Here in Italy, September does mark the restart of local life. Tourists head back home and the population is replaced with tanned skin locals returning from their travels, businesses reopen after ferie (vacation), and there is a refreshing energy of daily life that lazily gains momentum as Italian chatter and scooter horns fill the air. We go back to the morning bars we frequent, make small talk with the baristas about where we’ve been for holiday, and gradually get back into the swing of things. The once relentless heat subsides and you realise you can finally breathe. You forget what it felt like not to be dripping sweat and you might even need to bring a light sweater when you go out at night. New fruits and vegetables fill the market stalls, seasonal pastries are displayed in bakery windows, and kids go back to school. That’s September in Florence.
For me, though, it feels as if summer was a lifetime ago, yet September hasn’t started. My life has changed so much in the month of August that I can hardly believe a new season is knocking on the door in the same place I just lived what felt like another life just some weeks ago. Time feels as if it has stopped. I would normally be welcoming my class back to school, catching up with parents, enjoying the hugs and kisses from my preschool kids, and planning our activities. I would normally be meal planning for the week with my boyfriend, discussing our plans for our days off together, and organizing my calendar.
But that was a lifetime ago. I no longer have my preschool class for hugs and kisses. I no longer have someone coming home at dinner time. I no longer have a routine.
However, I do have free time. I do have time to write, paint, read more, draw, discover new music, practice yoga, spontaneously go out with friends, watch the films I’ve wanted to see, meditate, organize my life, focus on me, change my hair, make new choices, change my path. I do have time to enjoy the little things. I do have time to explore more of the city I love. I do have time to try new coffee shops and restaurants that I’ve been dying to try. I do have time to meet new people. I do have time to dream. I do have time to sit in my own company and enjoy the silence. I do have time to call my friends and family more often. I do have free time, I do have opportunity, I do have a new chapter waiting to be written, and it is glorious.
September marks new beginnings. Like the trees, I am allowing myself to shed what no longer serves me, and go through a transformation. What better time for change than the changing of the seasons. What better place than in my beloved Florence.