By Mia Maggiacomo
“What do I have now to look forward to?” I said to my father, on the opposite end of a twenty minute Facetime call, getting ready for his eleven o’clock stretch yoga class.
“Seriously,” I said. “What do I have now to look forward to?” He sat back on our living room couch, exasperated and responded firmly.
“Everything,” he replied. “First, your dog misses you.” My not so little, almost 10-year-old golden-doodle dog, Merry, sat at his feet in my home, lounging as the light of the early Sunday morning shown through the windows above her head.
“She’s wicked smelly and needs a haircut, but she’s still as cute as when you left her.”
I could see the tufts of her bright blonde hair at his feet. Sitting the way she used to on mine, simultaneously crushing and affectionately rubbing the bottom of my legs. When she was little, I used to sit on the floor in our living room so that she would sit on my lap. Her body formed to the space left between my legs and she would fall asleep as if I were some comfortable pillow or mattress she could fall asleep on. Something she could trust to sleep on when she was too exhausted to stay awake in our world. Now, she just rests by my feet.
“Your mother has also redone your room,” he said. This was a Christmas I saw coming from the moment I left for Italy. For months my mother has been complaining about my room. The orange walls never correctly complimented the green framed mirrors or patterned grey carpets that I collected over the years. She said nothing matched the way it should. I sort of liked it that way, I never felt uniform or complete, so why should my room? Once when I was Facetiming my sister she showed me a preview of the “Krissy K Interior Design Challenge.” My bed frame was changed, accompanied by a new mattress, new sheets and new pillows, although I was surprised to notice that my signature collectables had not been touched.
“She didn’t get rid of anything,” I said to my sister, who was obviously not as amused with this room tour as I was.
“Yeah,” she replied. “She just added a few new things.”
“Finally,” my dad said, “you have your family to look forward to.” I smiled as the thought crossed my mind. My weird, crazy, perfect family.
“This year, the family reunion’s on the twenty-third. Then Christmas Eve at my sister’s the next day, then Christmas Day at ours with your mom’s family the next.”
“Why so close?” I replied. We never celebrate Christmas like this. I’m lucky if I get to see my whole family this time of year. Everyone’s moved on, grown up and adjusted to their own lives as people.
“Just the way everything fell, sort of serendipitous, huh? That’s what makes it special,” my father replied, whose hair shagged longer than I’ve ever seen and whose eyes, my friends always say, are identical to mine. During my senior prom, when everyone's parents congregated at my best friend Alex’s backyard to take photos of their girls being sent off with questionable high school boys, Alex said, “You’ve never looked like your mom. You’ve always looked like your dad.”
I shook my head in dismay, because what does it mean to look like your father. A man you value, love and look up to, but you yourself don’t share similarities with at all. I couldn’t comprehend it then, but I understood it now.
As I am set to leave Florence in two weeks, I find myself very appropriately reminiscent of my time here and what is set out for me in the future. I’ve changed for the better, my hair is longer, my thoughts are clearer and my convictions are strong. I don’t live in fear of the future, but I sure do miss the past. If I could stay, I would. I’ve found a life here that could be mine forever. But, I’ve made my choices and don’t regret any one of them. So, if to say goodbye is what needs to be done, then I will kiss the ground and cherish the moments before I remind myself that everything good goes by too quickly.
We will meet again, I know it. I knew it when we met. I won’t let go of what you taught me and how my eyes adjusted to learn who you are and what existed underneath your skin. Even though the pollution in the air at points became too overwhelming and I was always slightly at risk of being hit by a car, I’ll treasure every spot where I remember you most clearly. I hope you’ll do the same for me.
“You’re right,” I said, holding back tears which at this point I did not know what were for.
“You’re right, I have a lot to look forward to.”