Sometimes, life just hands you a gift.

Sunday morning, Florence, Italy,

 Is it the jet lag? The ten hour time difference?

 I woke up in the darkness. It was 4:30am and I was wide awake. I got up, made a cup of tea and grabbed my phone; started scrolling through photos from yesterday, reading the news from back home, maybe did a crossword puzzle or something. Around 5:30, as the sun just started to rise, my FaceTime rang. It was one of my oldest and dearest friends calling. We hadn’t spoken in a few months and he doesn’t do social media. In his mind, he thinks he’s caught me at 7:30 in the evening in California. He has no idea that I’m in Italy at the crack of dawn. He says, “Do you have time to talk?” I said, “Sure, but hang on a minute. Nickie’s sleeping. Let me go outside.” 

 I get outside and start walking as he tells me that he’s back in New York for his son’s college graduation. Congratulations are in order. As I keep the camera tight on my head and shoulders, we revel for a few minutes until I approach the completely empty Duomo plaza.  At this point, he starts noticing the architecture behind me ain’t exactly Stockton and he says, “Where are you?’” I flip the camera around to reveal my surroundings. 

 For the next hour, we giddily strolled through empty Florence together, cutting across the Piazza della Signoria to the Palazzo Vecchio, past the Uffizi Plaza, down to the river, then turn around and wander through the abandoned alleys and cobblestoned streets right up to the Basilica of Santa Croce where a bunch of teens are congregated on the steps, still partying from last night…DOING THE MACARENA.

 By this time, it was past midnight in New York and I could feel his eyelids starting to droop. We exchanged I love yous and said goodbye. 

 As I walked the last half mile back to the apartment, I felt such a huge glow. It was not lost on me that a few years back, we had done the exact same thing… in Paris!

Sometimes, life just hands you a gift.

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