Roma Amore Mio
Roma Amore Mio (Rome my love)
It’s a little past midnight and I’m lying awake listening to the sounds of Rome buzzing outside my bedroom window. The apartment is dark, except for thin streams of light through the window shutters from street lamps. My kids are asleep, snoring softly but I am far too excited. It’s our first night in Roma and I am filled with its electric energy, a vast contrast to our past week in the quiet hillsides of Tuscany. There, the moon was the only light at midnight streaming through six-foot glass shuttered doors. The only sound, that of the wind occasionally shaking wood against glass.
But Rome is positively alive. Through my open window I hear someone across the courtyard chopping loudly on a cutting board. The knife bang, bangs away, the smell of garlic drifts, they’re humming loudly, unphased that it’s the middle of the night. In the apartment two floors down, a couple is singing at full capacity; “No Women No Cry” in very broken English. He’s all: “Hey little sister, don’t shed no tear.” And she’s all: “No women no CRYYYY!” It sounds like they are drunkenly dancing around each word and one another. A man drops a stack of plates in the café on the bottom floor, sending such a loud cascade of sound up the courtyard that it nearly rattles my windowpane. He follows it with what I can only assume, is a string of Italian curse words. There’s the clinking of wine glasses and rounds of loud laughter drifting up from the streets open air café’s through Kanen’s window across the hall. Then a little transient musical performance makes its way down the middle of the street stopping at tables, the accordion player billowing out classic Italian melodies in hopes of earning a few euros.
Laughter, and sound bubbles. Seeping through walls built of brick and stone, carrying with it whiffs of basil; olive oil, crushed tomatoes, wine and cigarette smoke. It’s like watching a movie with your eyes closed.
It’s as if the city is dancing around me in richly choreographed numbers. Loud, beautiful, strong and yet somehow effortless. There is no filter, no sensor to be quiet. No mute button. I think of how many times I’ve told my kids to be quiet when they play, or laugh or….are being kids. Back home it’s not acceptable to disturb others, so we are all muted. Here the couple downstairs singing through Bob Marley’s greatest hits album, knows that very apartment can hear them, but they don’t think to care. And what’s amazing about that, is no one else cares either! There’s no grumpy neighbors hanging out windows screaming for quiet. This is LIFE and everyone is LIVING IT. Enjoying it without apology.
Rome is a drug I desperately want to get high on.
I breathe deeply and even though no one can see it, I keep smiling. Because I can’t help it. This moment and all the others that have come in the last twelve days have been ones I’ve dreamed about with such clarity, they felt like walking through memories. Italy has been my dream for over twenty years, and now I am living it.
I think back to the morning we landed in Venice, all the way from Portland. I was watching my three children sitting in the plane’s middle row, talking excitedly amongst themselves, too hyped to sleep on our red-eye across the ocean. I’d look at my thirteen-year old son Kanen, and his whole body would light up, and he’d mouth to me; “Mamma! We are going to wake up in VENICE!” It’s not every day that your teenage son allows you to see such child-like excitement. But here, in Italy, I’ve seen it in him and his nine-year old twin sisters every single day. They have that …joy. And that is why I’ve risked so much, saved so long, and sacrificed more than I should have, to bring them with me on my quest to find purity, genuine connection and real happiness.
I’m a single mom, raising my three kids alone in Oregon, but I’ve got big dreams. The biggest of all has always been Italy, and I could not imagine experiencing it without them beside me. So, I made the decision to use every penny I had to make this dream real. I knew that somehow it would be the magic that our family needed to navigate the next phases of our lives, and bring us closer as a family. People definitely thought I was crazy. “Buy a house instead,” they said. Maybe that would have been the right decision for most people, but not for me.
It was when I held my daughter Mira’s hand in the gondola crossing the Grand Canal in Venice, that I knew I’d made the right decision. I watched her fear of water transform into awe, exchanging apprehension for wonder. Or maybe it was in Tuscany, when I watched her twin Izzy swing her leg over the saddle of a horse named Foni, turning her dream into a “first time” memory. It could have been the first time I saw my son as a young man instead of just my baby, as he navigated the train Termini on each leg of our journey, or smiled when a girl caught his eye.
These moments and so many others like them have made this adventure so much more than a vacation. It’s the first time we’ve witnessed unfiltered, uninterrupted joy in each other and ourselves… for twelve straight days. And once you are exposed to that, your life can never be the same.
*excerpt from my travel journal October 15, 2016