| magic (feminine noun) | /maʒi/
There’s an episode of my beloved television show 30 Rock in which Liz Lemon visits Cleveland with her boyfriend. She falls in love with the city, which is infinitely more friendly and clean than her hometown New York City. Upon returning home, Lemon recklessly considers moving to Cleveland with her boyfriend, but Jack Donaghy reminds her that this is simply evidence of the “vacation mentality”, that what she experienced in Cleveland was only a mirage.
Vacations exist in a vacuum. For those few days (or weeks or months), you are free of all banal activities and responsibilities. You are able to experience a place without the burden of jobs or studies, commitments that plague the locals. Instead, you get to spend your time eating, drinking, and visiting the best of what the city has to offer. Lucky you. But the vacation mentality is dangerous, because it will have you enrolling in Italian courses (or Spanish or Arabic or French) and researching ways to move abroad quicker than you can swallow that shot of Limoncello.
I spent the week in Rome visiting my family, and I brought my boyfriend along to meet them for the first time. This was my third time in Rome, and I’m thankful that I decided to give the city another chance. You see, I wasn’t thrilled during my first two visits. It was unbearably hot and dirty, and I don’t like spending a lot of time in large, noisy cities. However, this time, I got to see Rome through a fresh pair of eyes. This was my boyfriend’s first time in Italy, and as an ancient history buff, his excitement was contagious. Additionally, the weather was perfect: sunny and breezy. And I got to eat my favorite foods: creamy gorgonzola risotto, spicy salami and gooey mozzarella, lemon gelato, and the satisfying crunch of bruschetta. On top of that, the locals were welcoming, smiling, shaking our hands, and speaking to us in an accented mixture of English and French.
I felt deflated when I returned home last night. Home, where the skies are notoriously gray, where my apartment walls are just a little too thin, and where the food is just a little too bland. I am in mourning.
So many of my travels shimmer with magic and impossibility. I miss the warm, cosy pubs of Dublin and the fragrant spice shops of Marrakech. I miss the emerald fields of Normandy and the cerulean fjords of Norway. But most of all, I miss the taste of basil and tomato and the warm days I spent in Rome. I hugged my mother for the first time in six months, and when I let go of her, I left a part of me behind. Now I’m incomplete, mourning the loss of something I cannot place and longing hopelessly for the sun-baked streets of Italy.