There was one summer that I lived in southern France, in a little apartment with red shutters.
That summer, I tried gelato for the first time and promptly became addicted. I found the goodness that is Speculoos and made it a hearty part of my daily diet. I went to class in the morning, where I worked on my French and met other students from all over the world. I met a girl named Emily who quickly became my best friend there and I'm sure will be a lifelong friend, and we laid on the beach nearly every afternoon tanning in the Mediterranean sun, becoming some of the brownest girls around. I went to Milan for a weekend and Paris for a longer weekend, exploring and living a life I thought I'd only ever get to dream of. I spent some nights in, blogging and skyping with Benny, who was deployed at that point, and I missed my family more than I can say.
I learned a lot that summer. Some were necessary life skills, like how to tell off skeevy European men in French and how to pick the best produce at the market. I also learned how to not budget money, seeing as I spent all of my money in the first 3 weeks on traveling and planning traveling and maybe a few too many jars of Speculoos. But I learned that my family really will always have my back. And Ben and I grew a lot that summer. If we could make it through a 6 hour time difference, where he was going to sleep right when I was getting home from the beach in the afternoon and I was waking up while he was in the middle of his work day, we can make it through anything. We certainly had some fights that summer, mostly because of topless beaches and shitty Internet connection. But looking back, I think that being apart that summer brought us even closer.
I'm not saying I'd go back to that summer, because well, just LOOK at my life right now. But I certainly miss it sometimes.