…a hundred thousand things to see (pun intended). Today I left Italy – my third home along with New Jersey and now DC – for a the start of something new (most puns I make are intentional. Badumch). Amman, Jordan, I have arrived! And with my formal trip over the Mediterranean and down to Jordan went most of my nerves; while last night I was really at the height of my anxious/excited/worried-ness, now I’m just so thrilled to have found my way to the Middle East for my semester abroad. As I keep telling my friends, when else am I going to spend three and a half months here? And, I already started to feel slightly at home in the airplane, practicing my shukrans (thanks – شكراً) and my ahlan wa sahlans (hello – أهلاً وسهلاً). Even reading the flight magazine with the movie descriptions was exciting because I would read half in Arabic and half in English. When I asked the Arabic-speaking man sitting a seat across from me what a word meant, he was slightly taken aback when I pronounced the word in addition to pointing at it. It was pretty gratifying. Nothing quite like surprising people!
But, alas and alack, I will also miss l’Italia. Once I returned from Amsterdam on Thursday afternoon (delayed shoutout to the lovely John for hosting me and showing me around his new home – check out his blog here), I realized just how little time I actually had left: a mere two and a half days to give my last goodbyes, run more errands, and do whatever I had missed during the rest of the month. You would think that a person who goes to Italy once per year would have already been-there-done-that, but every year, as I draw near the end of my vacation, I realize that I could always stay just a little bit more and do a few more things – whether or not I’ve stayed for one week or four.
My visit ended on a bright note though. On Saturday morning I invited all of my older cousins over for an “American brunch.” It might not sound exciting to you, but in a world where American pop culture is an automatic “wow” factor and brunch doesn’t exist, it was a pretty big deal. Plus, it’d been more than a month since I had eaten a proper ‘murican brunch and I couldn’t foresee one in the near future. So, when I got up bright and early on Saturday morning, I made the best (and simplest) brunch staples for the 8 cousins that could show up: pancakes (blueberry and chocolate chip, naturally), french toast, scrambled eggs, blueberry muffins, BACON (I’m pretty sure that’s what they told me they could smell from outside), fresh whipped cream, and even some peach cobbler to top off the day and add a “healthy” serving of fruit. Oh, and of course we had maple syrup. Why didn’t anybody believe me when I said maple syrup goes with and on everything? When my cousins walked in and saw the bacon and pancakes on the table they were enthusiastic. Then when they realized all of the food was still coming out of the kitchen, I couldn’t tell if they were nervous from the extraordinary quantity of carbs and butter they were going to eat or just too awestruck for words. Everyone managed to fill their plate to the brim with everything, and then once they got halfway through their plates, they reached that point that we all know too well: too. Much. Food. To their credit, they finished almost everything I brought out – and boy, was there a lot – but more importantly I think I set the bar pretty high for brunch. I’m anticipating a new family tradition. And a possible restaurant opening.
Regardless, with that and then a few more “musts” for my vacation (eating one more gelato, having my first actually Italian calzone, and naturally having some more pizza), my Italian vacation was suspended until December when I come back from Jordan – on to new (mis)adventures! What a shining, shimmering, splendid time it’ll be.