Family Vacation to Brindisi, Italy

As an Au Pair, there are fun moments, and there are the moments when you’re cleaning up vomit, chasing after relentlessly energetic two-year-olds, breaking up sister arguments, and forcing homework and guitar practice with every ounce of energy you have left- and you think with exhaustion, what is my life right now?

And then your host family takes you on an all expense paid vacation to Southern Italy, and you think, oh yea. I remember. 🙂  And then you ask yourself again with wonder and amazement, What is my life right now?

The six of us, along with my host mom’s parents flew to Brindisi late April for a week of relaxation, sightseeing and lots of wine, pasta and brick-oven pizza.  We took day trips all over, including cities like Lecce, Locorotondo, Alberobello, Polignano, Otranto.  It was all amazing, and I took far too many pictures.  The cities were incredible, but my favorite parts of the trip were speaking French with the kid’s grandparents and learning important slang phrases like “ça roule?”, “picoler”, and “ça chlingue!” [translation: how’s it going, to get drunk, that smells!]— as well as having a week to bond with the family, especially the girls in all of their crazy, amazing silliness.  These people are the best. ❤

I have far too many photos for one post, so I am going to split them up into a couple ones.  Enjoy! 🙂

Our Italian Villa:

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Flower Power

We decided to do an impromptu photo-shoot before the flowers lost their vibrant yellow.  [The field is a five minute walk from the house.]  I am going to miss this place and these people when I leave!! ❤

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Keep It Together

“Listen,” my brother said, “You have got get it together. When you get off the plane and see the family for the first time, please don’t burst into tears, OK?”

I nodded my head and wiped away the drops that had escaped from my puffy eye lids.

“You are going to be fine,” he said as he smiled and put his hand on my shoulder. “This is the trip of a life time. It’s what you have always wanted. It’s going to fly by, so enjoy it.”

It was last July and Britt said his peace at the Greyhound bus stop in Charlottesville, Virginia. I gave him a hug, waved goodbye and realized that starting off with this whole adventure was going to be more difficult than I had anticipated.

It was a month full of bittersweet goodbyes. I had just quit my job and moved out of Manhattan. I had already said goodbye to my parents and step-sister and was now leaving Britt to catch a bus up to Massachusetts where I’d be spending a month with my boyfriend of five and a half years- until I moved to France at the end of August.

My time in Europe was going to be temporary- just under a year. Even though I had been away from my family during most of my year in Manhattan, there was a comfort in knowing that if I needed to, I could always take a long weekend to go back home. When I moved to France, that wouldn’t be an option.

I arrived in Franklin, Massachusetts and spent the last month with Justin. We went about life, both of us trying to forget about the reality of things, knowing that the most difficult temporary-goodbye was happening soon.

I’ll never be able to explain that moment fully in all its complexities. Leading up to that day I was terrified, excited, overwhelmed and full of wonder of what the year could hold. In the moment I said good bye and Justin stood at the edge of the security entrance, I didn’t know if I could do it. It hit me hard all at once and I stood there for the first time in the whole process thinking can I really do this? I felt lost and I cried for an entire hour and a half until I caught my first flight.

I had a lot of time to think, to anticipate, to wonder. When the plane landed, my stomach was in knots and the lump in my throat terrified me.

“Keep it together, Lauren,” I whispered to myself. “Keep it together.”

To put it simply, there is no way to prepare for something like this. Change is difficult because you don’t always know what to expect. And loosing control is one of the hardest things to accept. But when you are pulled to do something, (even if it’s for reasons you don’t fully understand), I think you should jump. You should free fall into something new and be satisfied accepting that the understanding will catch up to you when the time is right.

“You can do this,” I said.

[And yes, I was literally talking to myself.]

My host mom met me at the baggage claim, said hello, welcomed me, and asked with genuine motherly concern, “How are you? How was it saying goodbye?”

I smiled, bit my lip, and lied.

“It was fine.”

“Good,” she said.

It was a Saturday. I put my luggage in the trunk, took a deep breath, and buckled-up for the ride.