December 4

It’s been a while. After experiencing so many new things in the last 3 and a half months, it’s begun to feel like I’ve been here all my life. 4 months ago I couldn’t imagine living anywhere but America; now I can’t imagine going back. And honestly, I don’t want to. Can you blame me?

But as I’ve been reminded whenever things don’t go my way: that’s life. So here I am, 9 days until I go home and with it, take the best memories of my life and lock them safely away for a while.

When I was just a little girl enamored by her father- completely in love with him- I told everyone I was going to marry my Daddy. At the age of three he finally proposed to me. We had a whole ceremony and videotaped the entire thing. 18 years later, I remember this special day. My mom dressed me in my best white dress, white stockings, and black dress shoes. We even did my hair back in a ribbon. They played music as I walked down the front staircase, with my Dad in his tux waiting at the bottom for me. When my three-year-old sized self reached a few stairs from the hardwood floor, my Dad swooped me up and danced me around the living room to the music. It seemed like we danced for hours, me in his arms, and then me balancing on each of his feet. My older brother, Matthew, led the ceremony at our wedding. We both said our “I do’s.”

As you grow up, family relationships get complex and you start to realize your parents are humans that make mistakes, not these supernatural beings capable of perfection. Two weeks ago I met my father in Madrid and we trekked through part of the Camino de Santiago. In three days we hiked 60 miles from Santiago to Finisterre. The last day we made it Fisterra just in time to hope on a bike and watch the sunset over Costa da Morte, the exact spot that Roman pilgrims believed was the end of the world 6 centuries ago. Finisterre literally translates to “Land’s End.”

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We walked through the Moors and found ourselves more in the middle of nowhere than ever before. We watched the sunrise and sunset in the same day, three days in a row. We spent 15 hours outdoors and saw a maximum of 4 people. We were ALONE.

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And it was the best thing we could’ve done. We both laughed at the “spirituality” that the Camino is famous for, but I know that final afternoon, in the Moors, we both felt it. We reflected on the past few years and solved all the things that had come between us since our “wedding.” I felt like Daddy’s little girl again; I remembered why I have the best dad in the world.

After the Camino, he came back to Florence with me and I introduced him to my European lifestyle and friends. He loved it all, but let’s just say he couldn’t keep up.

Dad went home and I was left with a week and a half in Florence before I joined him and my family in North Carolina.

Today, my roommate and I took a detoured walk up to Piazza le Michelangelo. We stumbled across a beautiful villa hotel in the hillside of Florence. Naturally, we snuck in and peeked around. We promised each other we’d come back and stay there with our husbands one day.

Later, we met up with some other UNC girls and climbed the Duomo. I’ve been here almost 4 months and hadn’t climbed the Duomo- pretty sad. Once we reached the top, we took pictures and snagged a seat on the edge to watch the sun set over our city. We laughed, talked, and had a great time as always.

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