Lately, I’ve been dreaming about Italy. Usually Florence, sometimes on the balcony at my home stay, watching the cats crawl up the roof the way they used to. The black cat, Myra, sits on the roof to soak up the sun. April, the one that reminds me of a needy puppy, disappears for a couple hours. I used to worry about them, where they’d go. In my dreams, I think nothing of it.

I’m older, returning to the scene. Sometimes I’m alone, watching the night fall slowly on the city. In these dreams, I do not speak, but I think that I miss speaking in Italian, feeling that control over the foreign. In other dreams, I’ve returned to a hotel room, an Airbnb, somewhere. I fry zucchini flowers, the way I watched Alex do in Rome once, and I dance around goofily with Nicole. She’s never been to Italy, but we are here, 25-or-so, playing music from my phone and twirling around in a cramped kitchen, the same way we did when we shared a tiny room in college. The same way I dance with my sisters on Saturday mornings. We sit on the floor with our backs against the cabinets, laughing.

I never walk the streets, but only watch the city from a window or a balcony. I do not feel trapped. I remember where all the streets go and the long trek up the hill back home. I do not long to see the flowers that bloom in my Florentine neighborhood, the yellows and pinks bursting, welcoming me back. I simply look out, pajama-clad, at the bustle beneath me. There, I am alive enough.

by Danielle Fusaro

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