I have moved from Via del Poeta to Rue de l’Ermitage. (Both appellations are strangely fitting—consider it coincidence or not, your choice.) In the past month, I have slept in nine different beds, only three of which I consider (or considered) mine. I have traveled by plane, train, and automobile. And bicycle. I have lost and gained kilos. I have used three different SIM cards. (I think) I have dreamed in three different languages. I have learned, forgotten, and remembered words.
Like last week at the station when I missed my train by one minute and had to ask a kind-looking businessman if I could borrow his cellphone to call my new landlady who was waiting to pick me up. I was doing just fine, coaxing out a half-smile, perhaps by using the ten magic French words I had faithfully memorized in my advanced conversation class four falls ago, when instead of “mon portable”, I could only remember “il mio telefono”. Then, when I was reading off the phone number, I blanked on how to say 77 in French French and then tried to turn my Italian 77 into a Belgian French 77. Needless-to-say, that patient businessman had no idea what number I was trying to read.
All of this is new, bright, and exciting. I love all the different sounds and syntaxes and the puzzle of arranging them in just the right way. (In the end, I did successfully contact my landlady.) I love the different pastries. I love trying on the different rhythms of daily life, and I’m quite pleased with the work visa that I waited months for and the most recent stamps that are filling my passport. Yet, that ink also makes me uneasy. It means that I’ve come and gone; that the last few weeks have been a series of scattered moments.
All of this transience has been gnawing at me. Maybe it’s because, until I left for college, I lived in the same house for eighteen-and-a-half years and am finding myself more of a homebody than I want to admit. Maybe it’s something to do with people and their roots, as a few of my lovely colleagues have mused on. (What about nomadic peoples, I wonder? Although I’ve heard that transience is a characteristic of my generation, it’s not actually something new.) Who knows. What I do know, however, is that I found the continual cycle of arrivals and departures in Perugia disturbing. Every month there’s a wave of newcomers, a turnover of flats, a new session of placement tests. Initially, it’s crazy cool—you meet people from all over the world. But the wave that breaks also riptides. I came, and I went. I was part of the cycle of people that used the city and then moved on.
While I was in Italy, Lauren’s post, “Stay Gold, Ponyboy” both comforted me and gave me shivers because I was only there for a month, and I could feel the days careening away very Italian-like—manual transmission with no seatbelts. She’s totally right. Nothing gold can stay, and I don’t like that. I wished and wished and wished the moment would not end. / And just like that it vanished, writes Christian Wiman.
Now, my French visa marks me as a “travailleur temporaire”—a temporary worker, and after April, I will at least have to move to a different apartment, if not a different city or country. In the meantime, I will continue to worry about how to distinguish situational friendships from true ones. (Or, are all friendships, in the end, situational?) I will obsess over what to hold onto and what to let go of and how to cling and cleave gracefully. But I will also have to remind myself, as Lauren’s post did, that I do hope in something beyond an irony of continual effervescence.
 To any American going abroad: call your phone company and get your phone unlocked so that you can use it with foreign SIM cards. And bug them about it. T-Mobile, at least, had to send me a passcode, which I had to ask for twice.
 Excusez-moi de vous déranger Monsieur/Madame, mais j’ai un problème. (Excuse me for bothering you, Sir/Madam, but I have a problem.)
 my cellphone (French)
 my phone (Italian)
Sabrina Lee majored in English and French and graduated from Calvin College in 2013. After a couple of gap years, she’s back in school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, pursuing a MA/PhD in English.You can usually find her reading and drinking tea—and, once in a while, ballroom dancing.