I was a French major. I missed out on a scholarship to study in France by one-I was the runner-up. No, I did not go to France. Time passed and I applied for a scholarship to study cooking at La Varenne in Paris. I had been working in the food industry for a while and had good recommendations and a slimmer of hope for receiving an award. One day the mail arrived and it was from La Varenne. I held my breath and hoped for the best. No, I was not the winner, but they did want me to come-to work in the cooking school-washing dishes! If I’d had about an extra $10,000, I might have gone and rented an apartment in Paris and been the pot scrubber, but it was not in the stars.
Time passed and a good friend kept telling me I should be in Italy. She traveled for business and had been there various times. She kept bugging me about it and although I thought it sounded like a good place to check out, I didn’t understand her insistence that I go. Every time we talked, she inquired as to when I would make plans for Italy. I wanted to go, but I couldn’t understand her insistence. What was it about Italy and me?
J. and I actually made plans for traveling to Italy probably four years before we finally made it there. By this time I started dreaming about a vacation in the homeland of my grandparents. I knew we would go. It was just a matter of when and for long. When I started planning, the internet wasn’t being used by most hotels. I remember sending fax after fax trying to find availability at hotels I’d read about. Every morning the first thing I would do was run to the fax machine and see who had room for us! We decided to see a few hot spots-Venice and Florence-and then time exploring Tuscany.
It was a wonderful trip. There’s something incredibly magical about that first time to a place you’ve dreamed about for years. We landed in Milan and took the train to Venice. When we walked out of the Venice station and were standing in front of the Grand Canal, I cried. Suddenly I knew what my friend was talking about. I was meant to be in this country. One mere moment and I was in love.