I have arrived, and it is beautiful. Smooth traveling brought me to Rome. I sat next to a vibrant 17-year-old boy on the plane. He was traveling to Italy for a family wedding at the beach. “Wow, a real live artist” he said, as if we had gone extinct. “But you just look like a mom,” he added. I showed him my work hoping to prove that you don’t need purple hair and a neck tattoo to call yourself an artist. Thankfully, he concurred. He had not learned any Italian for his trip. Niente! His reasoning, “English is the universal language, why bother?” At some point he will see the beauty in this diversity. For now, his biggest concern is his nipple piercing, and how he might conceal it from his conservative parents at the beach.
My first real experience of Rome?getting ripped off by the cab driver. I should have known better but I was tired, and he had an honest face. “Never trust a book by its cover” should have extra emphasis when applied to taxi drivers. I got to my room safely, and perhaps that was worth double the fare???
The nap was like none I can remember. Instant. Deep. Delicious. The alarm was equally powerful; long, animated, dubious. I pulled myself up knowing I would have serious regrets at midnight if I did not. I walked all over Rome for a few hours. When it was late enough to justifiably return to bed, I stopped at a small café near the hotel. Solemente? Si Signore, Solemente. He took me to a small patio table against the wall. Perfecto. I could see everything, including the stars. I understood pieces of fleeting conversations. Before long, I stopped trying to understand anything and I was lost. I watched bodies move, the old, the young, and everyone in between. They greeted each other with passion, they laughed with it, they live with it. I get the sense that everyone in Italy has sex ? forever, and often. Their bodies read “humana humana” no matter the age. It is a lovely thing to see an old woman wink at her man with such lusciousness, and visa versa. Perhaps that is their secret to such vitality.
The evening waned on as I finished my ½ liter of cheep (yet delicious) red wine. I watched an old man eat ½ a watermelon with a fork and knife. I’d never seen that before. It stuffy at all. It was convenience. It took this juicy pink fruit easily to his lips and his senses enjoyed every drop with succulent indulgence. It made me smile. I almost ordered watermelon.
Sleeplessly delirious, I was transported. I was in nirvana. Then a drunken homeless man leaned into the trellis surrounding the garden. He took down the trellis and the table beneath it. In my sleepy bliss, I was reminded that pained and desperate souls are here. They are everywhere. We are insulated from much of it, but they are here.
I am blessed, and I know it. Most of you are too. We can only hope to sustain it, and ease the pain of those that cannot.
More tomorrow? For now, I’ll return to my little room in the old convent…and go to sleep. I wish my mother could see it. One of her favorite comments when the world became too heavy was “Ooooohhh…. I should have been a nun!” One night in the convent may have changed her mind. Ciao!