The Flo

(Photo by Marshall Jones on
(or listen here)

In September of 1846 after honeymooning in Paris and being disowned by Elizabeth’s father, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning moved to Florence, Italy.

late 1840's Florence, Italy saw:
itself being a part of the Hapsburg- Lorraine Dynasty
continued recovery from the 1844 floods
tourism as a significant industry 
premiere of Verde's opera MacBeth
Plato-Florence railway opens

As a late 20th century middle-schooler tourist girl, I fell in love with Florence. I loved walking the streets with the fanciest storefronts littered with tacky tourist dangling spots too. I loved being offered drinks because I looked much older than I was, and sneaking bits of wine. I loved the heavy humid smells of fragrant food, overheated people, and fishy water. I saw my own David (Michelangelo)! I learned about the Medici, Alighieri, Machiavelli, da Vinci, Dante*, Botticelli, the Ponte Vecchio, Fountain of Neptune, the Duomo, Raphael… and so much more. I used my own pocket money to purchase a gilded leather bookmark and snazzy baby blue ankle boots. The boots are long gone back to dust, but the bookmark is still in my keepsakes drawer, as pristine as ever. I was so proud of being able to buy beautiful things from Italy. I loved having this experience, and remember spots and images to this burgeoning old-lady-times day.

I did not know about the history of the Barrett-Brownings (or a shit ton of other stuff, which I still do not know anything much about anything much and the more I think I am about to know, the less I see that I actually know – you know?). If I had known, I would have been one even more day-dreamy love moony middle school girl meandering the streets of Florence with whispers in my (then) curly blonde head of:

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and Ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
(E.B.B. Sonnets From the Portuguese #43)

By then I had felt the full force of my first major crush. An older boy, natch, with thick wavy dark hair and happy eye smiles. He said I’d grown up a lot over the summer and looked fantastic. I think I melted to the floor because I was not aware he even knew my name. Which is a ridiculous thing for me to think since there were probably a total of 150 kids from middle through high school and we all shared the same classrooms and teachers. Then again, I probably only spoke to a handful of people because that’s how I roll(ed). I was (am) of the awkwards.

I miss the clear fond voices, which, being drawn and reconciled into the music of Heaven's undefiled, call me no longer. 
(E.B.B. Sonnets From the Portuguese #33)

The ebb and flow of all of the things.

Love, Ms. Herisme xoxo

ps I believe I have found our Miss Emily Bond Anderson and Mr. David Stewart! To be continued…

*I KNOW that Dante and Alighieri are the same person… brain blip blamed on enthusiasm and lingering real work awaiting my attentzione

5 thoughts on “The Flo

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