We’ve been back from Florence for a while, but when people ask about our time there, we no longer talk about what we saw or who we met, we’re more likely to describe how the experience changed us.
Sandy discovered that her creativity knows no bounds, that she has her own unique artistic voice, and can create beauty from wire, paints, plaster of Paris, charcoal, screening, beads, bottle bottoms – anything she chooses. For my part, I learned that I can easily live without the public profile of my picture on a newspaper column or my byline on some magazine article that the world will little note nor long remember.
We learned the importance of keeping family close, honoring the work of others, and constantly being curious about the world around. We learned not to envy anyone, to cultivate friendships, and to spend time each day on tasks that have intrinsic value. We learned to treasure the Italian way of life that marvels in the moment, celebrates youth and age alike, and treats strangers generously and with respect. We learned that taking risks in life can offer great rewards.
But most of all, we learned that while we do not require as much as we previously believed by way of living space or material possessions, we do need each other. On our anniversary, we two high school sweethearts bought a small brass padlock, wrote our initials and the date on it with a black marker, and secured the lock with the dozens of other similar sentimental statements on the wrought iron railing beneath the statue of goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini on Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge across the Arno, the one lined with modern-day jewelers and goldsmith shops. The tradition is relatively recent. Couples have been declaring their love for each other in this manner and at this location for about ten years. Once the lock was in place, we threw the keys into the Arno. Until death us do part.