Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ci vediamo, Napoli

On Tuesday, I'm moving back to America for good.  Since the O'Brien family landed in Venice in June of 2002, Italy has been my home.  We spent a good four years on the Army base in Vicenza.  My sister went to the same elementary school that my grandmother taught at when my dad was growing up, we lived only 45 minutes away from Venice by train and I met people that I still consider to be some of my best friends to this day.  Unfortunately all pictures of me during this time period have mysteriously disappeared because it was during my awkward stage.

I'm a frequent visitor to the Spanish Steps.
Although we lived in base housing, my parents still dragged me around everywhere... usually against my will.  We did Paris, Vienna, Budapest, Florence, Athens, Rome, London and more.  We went skiing in the Alps and ate Asiago cheese in Asiago.  We saw the live chess match in Marostica... twice! Usually when people asked me where I was from, I would say Tampa because that's where my family was prior to Vicenza but now if someone asked me where I was from, I would say Naples.

When we lived in Vicenza, we shared a duplex with the Coburns.  They had a daughter my age who was also in my sixth grade class, Dana.  She's still one of my best friends and I consider myself an honorary Coburn.  When we moved to Naples after my freshman year of high school... guess who we lived down the street from.  The Coburns! Yay! Already knowing someone in Naples made the move 100 times better even if I am painfully socially awkward at times.
Dana and I probably talking some shit in the thermal spa in Ischia
My home for the past five years... I jumped
Shelby, Twiggy and I went to a dog show, which was in the top 5 weekends of my life
My parents continued to drag my sister and I around against our wills, but we went some pretty cool places.  At the time, I kind of wanted to be a kid whose family never takes them anywhere and got to sleep in on long weekends but now I'm glad that I wasn't.  There were kids in my graduating class that left base two or three times in their three years in Naples.  Why are you going to live somewhere that has such a rich culture and is so vibrant and stay on Support Site the whole time?

Me: "What did you do over spring break?"
Lame person: "Nothing."
Me: "Oh, well I rode a camel in Egypt and I saw the Sphynx and the Pyramids of Giza.  Be jealous."
That little girl leading my camel was evil.
My usual partner in crime/BFF Mandy
Erika, Roberta and I!
My DoDDS (Department of Defense Dependent School) high school was a breeze and I left for college in Washington DC 100% sure that I was going to rule the world some day.  Long story short, about two and a half years later I ended up returning to Naples.  Now about two years after that (almost exactly) I'm on my way back to America.  As a dependent of a government employee, my visa and sojourner's permit expire when I turn 23.  I guess it's the government's way of pushing me out of the nest.  It's needed though and I'll be okay.

I'm going to miss this place so much.  My parents will still be living here but it can never officially be my home again.  95% of the people that made my time here so enjoyable are now living elsewhere but Naples will always be a special place for me.  As a military brat, I moved frequently.  The fact that we were in Vicenza for four years is uncommon and the only reason that we've been in Naples for so long is because my dad retired and became a civilian contractor.  It's kind of amazing because it's like living in a small town, but only 10% of the people that live there have been there for more than two or three years.  It's definitely a unique experience.  I've never felt an emotional connection to a place other than Naples.  Maybe that's because I've been here for so long, I'm not sure.

Vanessa, Kassi and I on Vanessa's last trip downtown!

My fave girl and I at her 1 year birthday party
Pozzuoli nights!

Living out here has been a little tough at times.  Some people grow up around their family and are best friends with their cousins.  I see my cousins maybe once every three or four years while most of them grew up seeing each other regularly.  With the passing of my grandma today, this really upsets me.

Tasha only knew Naples for a few months
I always find the somberos when I go to Druids.
Sara, Eva and I on my 22nd birthday!
I didn't have a plethora of extracurricular activities to choose from and sometimes living in Naples is just ridiculously inconvenient.  Your house will probably have mold in it.  I just happen to be allergic to mold.  You can't drink the water, the "safety" of the fresh produce is questionable and a lot of stuff is closed for the entire month of August because of a holiday.  Some parts are a little rough on the eyes and if you're sensitive to stray animals- stay away!  I've been without water and internet in my house for days at a time.  I've been petitioning our commissary (on base grocery store) to stock fake meat/keep it in stock for MONTHS.  Guess when it's finally on the shelves? Yes, that's right, the week before I leave.
Amsterdam for Model United Nations... eventful trip
My dress was too short to go into the Vatican so we had to improvise
Throwing coins into the trevi fountain.  We'll be back! 
I can reconcile with most of that stuff because of all of the happiness I've known here: overnight trips to Rome where you just sleep on the way back, running into the ocean after a night out, fireworks at ALL HOURS/365 days a year, living in the shadow of a volcano, watching the sun set over the Med from my rooftop.  I went on school trips to the Olympics, Germany, Paris and The International Court of Justice in The Hague.  I have been to the Vatican and Pompeii at least seven times each.  I've had friends come and visit me and I get to show them my world.
People in Pompeii were short. 
Brighid was a three time resident of Hotel O'Brien
Synna and I in Amalfi after I drove the most treacherous road ever
There are a few things that I really really really wanted to do but never did.  I started crying because I've never been to Auschwitz, which is something that I have always wanted to experience.  I kept thinking that I had time to do it.  I've never been to the homeland aka Ireland and that really depresses me.  I have the rest of my life ahead of me to see them, but it would have been very convenient if I just did it while I was here.  But I don't want to be disappointed about what I didn't do, I want to feel grateful for what I have done.  
Check out my unfortunate hair color
We have like no pictures together
My favorite 1/2 American 1/2 Italian couple @ their Promessa
I've made so many friends here that I'll never forget- American and Italian, even some Brits.  I'm not going to list them all because a) I probably couldn't and b) I would forget someone and they would be offended.  There are people that are most certainly my friends but either we don't have any pics together or I don't look good in any of the ones that we have :). Most of my former coworkers at the NEX are some of the most interesting and entertaining that I've ever encountered and I loved working with them, even if it was at the NEX.  I met Peter here, which is something I'm so thankful for.  I'm going to Pensacola with an open mind and I'm genuinely excited.  Talking to my mom earlier she told me she didn't want me to go and I said, "Mom, I should have moved out like five years ago... let's be honest" and she said, "No no, you just needed some extra time."  It's true, I did.  I needed that time to develop productive habits and become the person that I am today.  

A pic with our idol
Stoop kids
I remember this night went from 0-60 in like 30 mins

Naples taught me so many things: how to drive defensively AND offensively, how to be a coffee, pizza and wine snob all in one, a basic level of Italian, Neapolitan curse words and hand gestures, how to not get frustrated when something goes horribly horribly wrong, basic responsibility and probably a lot more that I haven't even realized yet.

When I leave on Tuesday I know I'm going to cry.  Not only because I cry on average about once a day but because I'm leaving my home.  I'm leaving knowing that I have new and exciting things waiting for me though.  Naples will always hold a special place in my heart but I know that there's more room for other special places.

Goodbye Naples, I'll miss you.

x- Katelyn
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