Tired of Doing Hard Things, Adult-Onset Food Allergies and Drive-By Motorino Conversations

I’m listening to Taylor Swift tonight. She’s my safe place. And yes, I did just yell out the bridge to Illicit Affairs. Don’t act like you don’t know the one. “DON’T CALL ME KID, DON’T CALL ME BABY. LOOK AT THIS GODFORSAKEN MESS THAT YOU MADE ME.” Yeah, that one. Damnit, she’s good. 

I need to get this little thing off my chest before diving into food allergies and motorino conversations.

I’m having a bit of a hard time. I found out about a thing this weekend and it’s a thing that made me sad and also want to scream at the night sky. It’s a thing I don’t feel ready to talk about or write about yet and it’s a thing that means I’ll probably have to go back to Canada for a bit. It’s a thing that weighs on me and it’s a thing I can’t NOT deal with this time around. It’s a thing that makes me want to put all the good things on hold. Things are hard and I know we can do hard things, but sometimes I get tired of doing the hard things.

“Can you develop a peanut allergy in your 30s.”

I’m aggressively googling information about adult-onset food allergies while I sip a little Sicilian amaro I bought in the Wild Wild West of Gavinana (it’s like the south of Florence) a few days ago before heading to the allergist to find out about my food and pollen allergies. I know I talk a lot about how sensitive my heart and feelings are, but I sometimes forget to mention how physically sensitive I am too.

I’m going to compare my body to a burrito for a minute. It’s a bit of a reach, but stay with me. Burritos are the Tesla of lunches, okay. They fill you up, they give you energy, they are—I believe—an idyllic combination of carbs and protein. But if you overfill them, they crumble. If you leave them out in the sun too long, they get soft. They need to be filled to perfection and enjoyed at the right temperature to thrive. I am a burrito.

If you leave me in the sun, I burn. If you lay me in the grass, my body becomes red and irritated. If you put me under hot water for too long, my capillaries break. If you give me soy, I become a shell of a human. But if you gently place me in a perfectly temperature controlled room with a computer and a blank page, I thrive. I am a burrito. A vegetarian burrito.

But I am a burrito with health anxiety. So after dealing with a few weird allergy moments this year and buying a natural shampoo bar that broke me out in hives, I decided to try and find out what I was allergic to because I couldn’t figure it out on my own. And I also wanted to know why my body can’t deal with certain mosquito bites. 

And you know what I found out? I found out I’m allergic to Tuscany.

Well, kind of. I have become the main character of Under the Pollen-Infested Tuscan Sun.  It seems I am super allergic to ragweed, birch pollen, hazel pollen and something else I can’t remember. I’m also allergic to cypress trees, dogs (this will never stop me from getting all the dogs), soy, maybe peanuts and hazelnuts, and a few other things I can’t even remember because the list was a tad long. 

And instead of comforting me about these thrilling new discoveries, my allergist decided to tell me a story about a man who died on a plane from a peanut allergy because peanut fragments were just floating in the air. He told me this after I let him know that I was getting tested to ease my anxiety because I thought knowing what I was allergic to would give me more control over what I put in my body. So now I have stopped eating peanuts until further notice and have to go get blood tests done to figure out if the peanut thing is even real. 

I also got lost on my way home from the allergist. It was late, I was a little overwhelmed by the allergies and my arms were still itchy from the patch tests. I had a bottle of amaro dangling off my bike. But then I saw Piazzale Michelangelo and I knew the road home.

My baby, a bottle of Sicilian amaro and the city I love

I mentioned this on Instagram already, but my Dad came to visit me in Florence for 20 hours! I think we hadn’t seen each other in like almost two years because of the pandemic. We tasted a few different wines together and walked all over the city in cowboy boots. He finally saw my little Florentine house after two years of me complaining about it and cursing the day I ever made an offer! He loved it.

In other interesting news: I reached 80K followers on TikTok…I don’t know how either. I was terrified when I got to 10K so I’m trying not to focus on it too much because you probably know I am an introvert with social anxiety who doesn’t always know how to interact with humans. I also generally tend to think people can’t stand me so the nice comments makes me feel like maybe I’m not such a terrible person after all. But because of the whole TikTok thing, people recognize me sometimes in Florence. And do you know what they do when they see me? They smile. 

I’ve only ever cared about being honest and sharing about how heartbreaking and beautiful this whole living and breathing thing can be. And in the name of being honest, the heartbreaking thing feels a little more true to my situation these days.

But there’s been something healing—or at least it’s felt a lot like healing—about the shared smiles and drive-by motorino conversations I’ve been having in Florence. (Even though they sometimes stop in the middle of very busy roads to talk and it makes me a very nervous Canadian.)

Maybe the smiles mean I did one thing right.
And maybe I can feel alright about being here in the world.

Thanks for being here. I appreciate it so much.
I would also love to know what you’re allergic to so I feel less alone.

Lisa xoxo

12 thoughts on “Tired of Doing Hard Things, Adult-Onset Food Allergies and Drive-By Motorino Conversations

  1. You are not alone! Not technically an allergy, but I found out I had Celiac about 10 yrs ago. Was not at all thrilled. Was anxious to eat places. Now I am fine and still derive much joy in eating – home, restaurants, noodle carts in Southeast Asia, gluten free pasta…it doesn’t impact my life much at all – I’m renovating my house in Sicilia, I’ll be moving there and making gluten free pizza in my wood fired oven. I’m allergic to all sorts of pollen, dander, dust, etc, too – over the counter stuff works well if I’m feeling gross. If you’re ever anxious maybe carry an epi-pen for travel? Hoping further tests indicate minimal allergies! Stay well ❤️


  2. Hi Lisa,

    I hope all goes well with the “Thing” that you have to deal with in the near future. I am replying to your request regarding people who also have allergies to deal with in general. I am lucky that my allergies have been very mild for a number of years.

    When I came back from a school year in Italy back in the 70’s I suddenly had a very painful eye irritation to cedar dust from cutting cedar boards for above ground pools I was installing that summer. Then I found that travelling in a car during pollen season made my eyes so itchy I wanted to gouge them out. For this irritation, I found that using shampoo/soap really helped to calm itch. Yessssss!!! If I pet a cat or dog, I can get the same itch. Shampoo time!

    Since about 2000 or maybe as early as 1995 I have not been affected by seasonal allergens. When I pet my son’s dog I avoid touching my eyes but wash my hands when it is convenient. You might find your allergies may change somewhat over time. I hope they disappear altogether for you in the not too distant future.

    If your anxiety won’t take a break, talk to your doctor about getting epi-pen as a backup. All the best Lisa! Ciao. 🙂

    Stephen F.


    1. Hi Stephen, I love that you found a solution for all of your allergies! Thanks so much for sharing yours. So far, I haven’t noticed huge reactions to pollen in Italy (it was a lot worse in Canada) so I hope
      it stays this way. 🙂 Thank you, Ciao! Lisa


  3. Ciao Lisa,
    Wow! Thanks so much as always for sharing. Here (in Perth WA) spring has sprung which is causing great panic this year; as it causes me to cough a lot and I have complete strangers asking why I’m not in isolation and have I had a COVID test!!
    Ci sentiamo


  4. Totally can relate on getting tired of doing the hard things. Thankfully, some of that stuff is routine now, so I don’t need to think much about doing them.

    And 80k followers on TikTok? Whoa. Wishing you many more followers to come!


  5. I’m a Canadian, East Coast…never had allergies other than Penicillin….and of course erythromycin, which is what You take when you’re allergic to penicillin… But I digress… I moved to Florida with my partner for a job transfer for him two years ago never had hay fever never had issues now I have itchy eyes a stuffed up nose watery eyes my throat hurts sometimes and I have trouble breathing. Pollen here is the worst that I have seen anywhere and you don’t get a break because we live in summer 24/7 12 months of the year You’re not alone… Keep a strong upper lip is not what us Canadians do eh?


  6. Hi Lisa! I am not allergic but I want to tell you that you made me smile from the first video I saw on tik tok. I think you are a great person and whatever is bringing you down these days never be afraid! never! sorry for my english .. Kisses


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