By mid-June in Bologna the air is hot and stagnant. The heat hangs low in the porticoes and by midday it feels too hot to go outside. Italians walk even slower to keep from sweating when stopped and the streets feel empty and quiet. Classes finish and we take our exams, one by one students leave. The friends I’ve made in the past year have all came and went, and only a few Americans remain. The warm nights are windy and as ever, full of people in the street, but I have fewer people in the city and less desire make new friends. It’s time for me to move on too. I write this on my balcony in the full moon, the last night I will officially have a home
This is the beginning of the end. Tomorrow I will escape from the still heat of the city to the hills on the horizon, walking away from Bologna to Florence. My life as a student in Bologna is drawing to a close, but the story isn’t finished. The fam arrives in July and we’re going to drive through the south, but until then I’m on my own with my backpack as my best friend.
I didn’t realize how long I’ve been gone. I’ve been living the moment for so long it’s been a while since I checked the time. It’s been five months since I’ve been home and part of me always wishes to be eating dinner with my family or meeting my friends at the Union. I wonder if things have changed in Madison and I wonder if I have too.
In many ways I love Bologna, it has become my adopted city, the only place outside of Wisconsin where I feel at home. I know the streets like the back of my hand; I could tell you every charge-free atm or the best place to get a cornetto at 3am. I have been here long enough to be friendly with the birra birra boys and see someone I know on the street every day. Bologna has taught me a lot about the world and about myself, given me a more globalized vision of the world and provided friends from all over the world I will hold to for the rest of my life.
But all that I have done is done and the future is an enticing hypothetical. Now it’s June 2019 and it feels like as good a time as any to bring this chapter to an end. I studied my textbooks and sold them back to the bookstore, already profiting from the knowledge gained. There’s no room in my bags for heavy coats, so I sold those too, buying new summer clothes with Italian brands. I shaved my head close like Italians do and bought a new pair of boots- in five days I’ll be in Florence, Yuri has a tent. I met a guy through Facebook who needed an apartment in Bologna and yesterday I packed my bags. He moved in last night and payed me cash for the rest of the month, now he’s sleeping in my old bed. I don’t live here anymore, in the morning I will leave. By the time you read this I’ll be gone.
The story is not over, I still have much to see. But to leave Bologna on a distant horizon seems like the right thing to do and I know it will stay with me forever. For now it’s time for another change and time for an adventure. In a few hours I will slip unnoticed from the city, headed for the hills. Onward to the end.