Thursday, December 22, 2011

Back From Italia & Back to Blogging

Last friday, I returned home to small-town New Jersey after 104 wonderful days of studying abroad in Perugia, Italy. To be honest, I don't know that there's any way to fully explain what the experience meant to me, but I will try my damnedest, because I refuse to return after a four month absence and act like nothing's changed. Yes, blog world, I left you for quite a while. However, it was less because I wasn't thinking about you, (I thought about posting often), but more because there seemed to be no way to describe the experience.

All my life, I've been praised for my confidence, my intuition, and my certainty. There's not many people I know of that are writing a full manuscript, reading 2-3 books a week, blogging, writing new songs, performing gigs, working a part-time job, running three student organizations, all while getting a 4 year degree in just 3 years--but, at 19, I'm doing it. And I'm so proud of myself for that, but, until I went to Perugia, what I was missing was balance. Sure, everything always got done on time and with as much perfection as I could perform, but my social life was struggling as was my sanity. Everything was its own, separate world, and when I was in friend world or school world or agent querying world, the rest of the universe disappeared. By studying in a gorgeous, culture-rich city, where all I had to do was study and relax with no other obligations, I re-learned how to be a 'normal', functioning human being.

Piano, piano is the way of life in Italia. Slowly, slowly. Leisure time. Family time. Time to cook long recipes and eat long meals. Time for sitting, for enjoying nature, and relishing life. I learned how to enjoy all of these things and not to stress so much about perfection or about all of the issues waiting for me back home. I let go of my anxiety over tight scheduling and the friends that didn't answer my e-mails and found a new 'zen'.

I learned to listen in a way I hadn't done before. I didn't have my crazy, vocal, rocker/activist wardrobe to inform the world of what bands I like or what causes (gay rights, homelessness, AIDS, political awareness, etc) that I support, but a more stylish, fashionable and unreadable "Italianesque" wardrobe. I didn't have my guitar with me to write songs with at the exact moment that I felt something. My friends and family were all an ocean away, so I couldn't just call or text them as I had before. I was forced to really listen to my own thoughts and figure out feelings without necessarily speaking them. I had to look to the world around me and to outside influences (music, art, etc) to help me find where I fit, and discovered a new way of processing and breathing through it all that I hadn't mastered before.

I mentioned in September that I had a "muse problem". I had rediscovered my muse in a close friend of mine (who, for now,  we'll call Muse) and had fallen so in love with her and found so much inspiration in her, that I was almost uncomfortable using her as 'Muse' anymore. The distance helped me to see that my muses are everywhere. That I should not limit myself to one muse, nor should I be ashamed of any muse that I have or of my love for anyone or anything that inspires me. Love is the most beautiful of all of my muses, and falling out of love with Muse in a romantic way is probably one of the best things I could have done for my creativity. There will no longer be a Muse with a capital 'M'. All muses are equal , wonderful, and incredibly important to me.

I found myself in Perugia. I fell in love with Perugia. And despite all that, I can't just bring her back home with me to introduce her to my friends and family. Sure, I have pictures and videos and fun facts and stories, but to truly see what I saw, you need at least 70 or 80 days with her to cultivate that love. I'm not sure how to reconcile that. But, for now, I'm putting my best foot forward, letting the world see this new self, and hoping that maybe people will start to understand.

                                                                   Mia Bella Perugia

<3 Gina Blechman