Monday, January 5, 2015


I am legitimately among the luckiest people in the world.

In every area of my life, I feel so fortunate and I couldn't ask for anything more. The next few years are such an incredible adventure, but it's amazing how I can see the world and still there is no where on Earth I'd rather be than home. Usually coming back to Italy goes the same; I get very snuggly for a day or so, cry on and off for the 24 hours before leaving, ball my eyes out as I go through security after hugging my parents goodbye (even when they have to pat down my hair or something, security is always so sweet at that point), and then pull myself together over a Diet Dr. Pepper and some gummy bears or stuffed grape leaves as I wait at the gate for my flight. As soon as leaving and heading back seems inevitable, I'm okay and can start to get excited about my next adventures. 

This time was different. I felt on the verge of tears every minute that I wasn't sleeping on the plane. When an airport employee in Paris told me my bags probably wouldn't be in Milan when I got there (they were), I went in the bathroom and sobbed for a good 20 minutes (usually I would be okay with that-- they'd get there eventually). And when I finally walked through the doors of my apartment 21 hours after leaving home, I cried again. The walls seemed bare, the fridge was empty, and it looked messy and empty. It felt so cold and lonely and impersonal. This was a strange feeling because usually I love my little apartment- it's one of the reasons I stayed in Opera for an extra year rather than moving into the city (that plus the cost). 

So why was this time different? I have travel that I'm looking forward to, I adore my job, and 2014 was probably my best year ever-- 2015 is surely going to be amazing! Over break, my parents and I had a few conversations where I went from, "I don't know if I should stay in Milan, go somewhere new, or come back to the USA!" to, "I'm almost definitely going to stay in Europe, probably in Milan." Their support matters a lot, and their retirement plans made me feel pretty secure that I'd still get to see them a lot if I stayed. Everything points to happiness in Italy, so why was/am I so sad? 


I learned a new Dutch word while lazing around, looking at Pinterest, and it is Gezelligheid. The definition I saw was 'the coziness, warmth and comfort of being at home, or being together with friends or loved ones sharing time in a pleasant and nice atmosphere (n.).' I also looked on the ever-reliable Wikipedia, which informed me that gezelligheid can mean the general togetherness that gives a warm feeling, or time spent with loved ones. A person, place, or event can all be gezellig, which is the adjective associated with gezelligheid. 

Every minute in the USA was/felt/I'mnotsurehowthewordfitsgrammatically gezelligheid. 

We drove from the airport to a family Christmas party my first night, where I was surrounded by people I adore. Making gingerbread houses at my aunt's house was full of the Christmas spirit that I love. The day after Christmas (my sister's birthday) we drove down to New Jersey for two days of laughing and lounging around with more family. Above all, I loved time in my home. I don't say 'my parents house' for a reason. My home is the coziest place on Earth. The second I walk through the door I'm comfortable. It's strange- my parents have been redecorating, and so almost every room is a little (or a lot) different from how it looked when I lived there full time, but it still feels the same. My mom cooked every meal that I love. My dad realized that we only had a VHS of my favorite Christmas movie and no VHS player, so went and got the DVD so we could spend the evening watching A Muppet Christmas Carol next to the Christmas Tree. I fell asleep laying on the living room floor almost every night due to a combination of coziness, being stuffed full of amazing food, and extreme jet lag, and it was perfect. Every time I come home I bring an extra suitcase for all of the errands I need to run (darn it Italy, just get a Target already!), but I don't think I left the house once on my own.  

While some find the constant togetherness of the holidays overwhelming, I need it; the constant presence of the four people I love most is perfection. I was able to get a little work done, but it was always sitting on the living room couch while my mom cooked in the adjoining kitchen or something similar. Even in the brief moments I was alone, being home felt like being hugged; I was just surrounded by love. 

So now I'm back in Milan, and though I don't have that here, I have so much else that I'm looking forward to and beyond lucky to have. I'll unpack and settle back into my apartment and it'll begin to feel more at home again. I'll see my wonderful friends, students, and coworkers and feel connected to my world here. I'll go on my next adventure and remember the adrenaline rush of stepping out into a piece of the world I haven't explored yet. This summer I'll visit the gezelligheid that is my home and feel so lucky that I have somewhere so full of love to go back to. 

1 comment:

  1. Tha is great way of seeing things. Gezelligheid is good and nothing will ever replace that feeling when you are home but the new life have it own gifts, they are just apple and oranges!

    By the way, Happy new Year and may you have the best year ever!

    PS. I do hope you read the comments :P