I was silly to think I would have time to blog. But I am journaling all the time and the many pages would be so much to copy here. Samantha, however, writes in bulletpoints in her journal and we decided to name it “the bulletpoint journal.” So here is the beginning of our bulletpoint journal online, though Italy so far cannot be captured in words. It will be short, essence, and maybe not grammatically correct:
4am Tuesday Sam and I were in a taxi to RDU, then jetting to NYC sleeping curled together like tired puppies all wrapped together. We spent the day in Queens then jetted to Germany where we caught a train into Dusseldorf. We explored, went to church, journaled outside in the sun in a cafe, long walks to the canals, and after 5 hours in the city, went back to the airport, jetted to Rome and the amazing life began.
Sitting on curbs, having long conversations, sharing a pizza and a bottle of wine, going to sleep past midnight with the screenless windows open to the street noise, alarms set for an early morning train to Tuscania, which we caught. We ended up in Viterbo trying to catch a bus, playing charades and speaking french to communicate with Italians who dont speak a word of english… and we ended up not finding the bus and not going to Tuscania but instead exploring the ancient town of Viterbo, having a 3 hour lunch in a cafe, getting sun-kissed, and going to a castle in Bracciano over an amazing lake surrounded by hills.
Then Italian night back in Rome, music and roads, cafes, waking up late, sitting on the windowsill while Sam takes a shower, me three stories up with the stone and open shutter, sun on my arms, wind in my hair, the street noise: heels on the sidewalk, cars and motorbikes, breeze in the trees, birds, a door slamming.We walked to Villa Borghese after, watched the sun set over Rome from the lookout at Pincio with the vatican beyond us, the roses around us, and the domes and city all lit up and the blue-red sky. Coming back later to cook pasta in the the kitchen, dancing to music (italian pasta music -noun- whatever the italians listen to when they cook pasta) and ate it with pecorino, a sardinian cheese (amazing) and there afterward dancing the tartantella. Then going to a coffeeshop club where the 80s and 90s music kept us dancing and laughing our hearts out. Driving past a Roman cemetary at night called Verano over which is inscribed the eerie saying “you are what we were and we are what you will be.” And the Italians say, “I dont want to be the richest person in Verano”, meaning you’ve worked your whole life and you are rich, but dead. So live now, is the essence of the people here. Beautiful in a way.
So we live now. We spent Saturday in the park Villa Ada (between neighborhoods Parioli and Salario) with a group of joyous welcoming Italians who shared food and drink and we played futbol, paddleball, watched kids screaming and running, sun, blankets, and delicious almond-amaretto cake. Then we went and ate cannoli near the Vatican (I found the answer to my question I asked a few blog posts back: plural of cannoli is cannoli and signular is cannolo) which our Italian friend Davide describes as “you mix opposites and find perfection”– you will have to eat cannoli in rome to understand. Then we went to the Vatican and danced in the square of st. peters, went to an open Italian art exhibit celebrating the unification of Italy, then whistled in the street as we walked around– whistled long songs with the weightless merry of the arboretum whistler and I understood his joy for the first time– and back to an Italian friend’s salon where we played music from Sam’s ipod, music that she played when she was in the UNC-Charlotte youth orchestra in high school, danced to the 1880 Capriccio Italian by Tchaicovsky (which was inspired by a trip he took to Rome and is reminiscent of Italian folk music and street songs, including an opening bugle call that he overheard from his hotel played by an Italian calvary regiment), and drank homemade wine from Lazio. Laughter and homemade beauty.
The one thing I keep saying her to Samantha is “I am so glad I came here with you.” We are the perfect traveling partners, filled with spontaneity, adventure, and easy spirit, loving everything we encounter and enjoying the moments. Our conversations are incredible and the best one yet happened after I read her some of the book I’m writing (my Eve book I call it because it’s inspired by and includes the stories from my trip last summer with the Eve scholarship) and we started talking about vulnerability because of it. Sam said the most amazing thing: “we have such a shallow conception of strength. our image of strength is iron, metal, it doesnt bend, it doesnt break. but strength is vulnerability which allows us to have compassion and compassion opens us to helping others.” something along those lines, although she said it much more beautifully. She described the surgeon general’s speech who spoke at her graduation from the school of public health and the surgeon general said a true leader picks up a person and puts them in above them, in front of them, and sam said that takes true compassion to be that leader. And you cannot have compassion if you live within the narrow definition of strength that our world gives us: not be vulnerable, not breaking, not showing emotion. So we are strong and happy and beautiful and vulnerable, open to the world here and loving every second.
Finally, we are literally dancing our way around Italy. Dancing everywhere we go, in kitchens, trains, cars, and streets, plazas, everywhere. Also, my friend Alessandro I met here has also truly inspired me: he’s a journalist but he calls himself a street warrior … explanation: he takes his blackerry and takes photos everywhere (like stalker-style hardcore, he totally creeps on people) but he captures this fantastic reality of life everywhere in the street, the grain of photos in the dark, on the sidewalk, in life, moments everywhere. I looked through 100s of his photos yesterday and was jaw dropped… I told him he should start a blog with his photos. Italy and Rome captured in a few pixels, people, strangers in the street, its fantastic. Anyway, thats all. Im taking wayyyy too long to write this and rushing because we are going out to dinner now BUT LOVE TO ALL AND I’ll try to blog more in the future with more. amazing roma life. viva italia.