If only one word I could use to describe how our trip to Rome went, chaos would be the right one.
Right now, as I sit in the small garden area outside my apartment, I wish I would’ve taken a picture of all of us in the car on our way to Rome (insert smiling faces, pumped out chatter), and another picture of us riding on the highway on our way home from Rome (insert open mouths, faces blank, heads thrown back, feet up and dead silence). As I chatted with my mom on the phone yesterday telling her all this, I couldn’t help but crack up at the picture and the feeling of living a lifetime in two days. It seriously felt like that.
My heart imploded inside my chest at the first sight of the beautifully mysterious city. We arrived in Rome on Saturday morning at about 10am. The sun was just grazing the tops of many rustic buildings. In the far distance I could see many humongous buildings, statues atop roofs, white, beige, terra-cotta. My eyes scanned the picture in the hopes of seeing the famous Colosseum, but I didn’t see anything I could recognize.
I guess we started our trip with the right foot once we stepped inside our hotel, its name was “Hotel”. I guess we should’ve taken that as a sign.
Our A/C made a cracking noise and didn’t work, the wallpaper was falling, there were cigarette marks on the duvet, and the shower curtain was stained with past people’s dirt. Safe to say we almost didn’t shower. Oh, and did I mention I left my toothbrush? Yeah, I didn’t brush my teeth.
We attempted to take the bus a couple of times, both times being thrown into the crowds of people. We held hands with each other so we didn’t separate, and smelled the “graceful” odor of raised arms upon arms on railings, turned our faces away from the person in front of us who was breathing into our face really loudly, and shifted our bodies from the awkward position of being on somebody’s lap. On the first try I had a guy bluntly rub next to me, and got my phone stolen. Oh and did I mention how my friend and I got kicked out of the church of the Vatican because our skirts were too short?
But we laughed, and we laughed so we didn’t cry at all that was strange and uncomfortable around us. Tripping over cobblestone and singing songs as we made our way back to our hotel. Going on gelato hunts at night so we could sit and recount the day’s events. Walking from room to room so we could hear each other complain, and laugh, and promise each other a better day. And the hopes of a new experience, one to tuck away into our folder of sights and growth.
I felt like walking on a dream our entire visit there. And I say dream just so I can keep myself from explaining the throbbing pain in the heels of my feet the next morning. I could sense the mystery of the city at just the thought of ”Hey, the Romans were here! That old, barbaric, and powerful society stood at this same latitude as I”. The subtle romantic ooze of the Trevi fountain at night and it’s chaotic demeanor in the mornings, all the small coffee shops, the apprehending crowds of people, the sight of the Pope whom we got to listen to, the tastes of the very best pastas and gelatos, etc.
But if I could just pick my favorites, they would be seeing live in front of my eyes the Sistine Chapel, that very important masterpiece by Michelangelo, which I feel like I spent a good amount of time learning about in school. And did I mention our tour guide? She knew absolutely everything. The details, the gist, the things to know and the things to not know.
And the best of the best of the best? Definitely the Colosseum. A living testimony to the nature of human beings, our faults and our hopes, our idiosyncratic ways.
I came home to the urge to see The Gladiator again, just so I could transport myself back to those times and live it up ‘cuz I never did before. Now that I can say I’ve been under the same sky, and I’ve seen with my own eyes.
There’s nothing better to ask for. Than to feel with your own skin, and to see with your own two eyes.
What a great gift.