Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A year ago this month...

Two blogs for the price of one today. It's because I'm procrastinating.

This time last year, I was preparing for my first over-seas adventure. I was going with a class to Italy. We spent 10 days in Rome and 7 days in Florence. It has always, always been a dream of mine to go to Italy. The thought of being in Rome was almost too much for me to handle. I jumped at the chance (I was one of the first to sign up, in fact), and I took out extra student loans.

My professor was great. He made us work hard for nearly a whole year before the trip, doing book reports, writing essays, and of course, there was lots of reading! It was important to Dr. Scambray that we have a certain appreciation of Italy before we ever stepped foot in the country. Not only did I do a lot of academic preparation, I also went on a diet and lost about 30 pounds.

I was so excited, I couldn't even sleep as the day approached.

I had to go by myself, so for the first time in six years, I had to spend more than a night away from my husband. Sleeping by myself wasn't difficult. The difficult part was that I didn't have anybody to share Rome with. I was there with a group, but being the natural loner, I didn't spend too much time with my fellow classmates. Also, I didn't like them and I couldn't really identify with them. I mean, how many times can you listen a 19 year old girl whine about how much she misses her boyfriend of three months when you're missing your husband of four years? How many times can you listen to a 20 year old girl complain about the fact her parents only sent her $500 for the week instead of $1000? It was like they were from a different planet.

Despite my loneliness, I have never, ever been so happy to be somwhere, so happy to be alive. Every single day was an adventure, every single day I tried something new, something that I would have never attempted before. Do you know how many times I got lost in Rome? Probably two dozen. Here's the thing though...I get lost everywhere! I just got lost last week in an area I've lived in for five years! When I get lost here, I panic, call my husband, beg him to help me. When I got lost in Rome, I calmly took stock of my situation, and approached the nearest cop (those cops were so fucking hot, and so nice....*sigh*). Sometimes they could speak English, sometimes they could not, but they were always helpful.

While I was in Rome, I got an email from Rachel, telling me that LSB would like to publish my book! Oh, what a day that was. The first thing I did as a published author was go to the Keats-Shelley Museum, literally on the Spanish Steps, and then went to their favorite hang-out, the Grecco Cafe. I'll never forget how happy I was that day, how special it was to me.

For months after I returned home, I was Rome-sick. All the books I read warned that this would happen. Rome changes you, somehow, on a fundamental level. It's a totally alien, and yet, totally known world. I used to ride the buses around the city, clutching the seat and muttering prayers because the drivers are INSANE! I thought that IF God exists, he lives in Rome, so he can stop those maniacs from killing each other! And yet, it only took me a few days to adjust to their rhythm of life, their expectations, their culture. It only took me a few days to learn the city.

Rome is both the most beautiful and the most ugly place I have ever visisted. It offers a glimse at the true divinity of men, and at the lowest rungs of humanity. Beggers lined the streets. I was mugged once, a friend of mine mugged TWICE (she must have had a big VICTIM sign on her forehead). The children and dogs are drugged to keep them silent. Hungry children and desperate mothers wait for mercy on the steps of ancient cathedrals and churches.

There was nothing I could do about it, even if I gave them every euro I had on me.

Which reminds me, Americans may have "invented" capitalism, but those Italians perfected it.

I plan to go back one day, of course. I need to show my husband everything I saw. Rome is my favorite place on Earth, without question. What's your favorite place? Did you every go anywhere that changed your life?


Blogger Dee said...

Pepper, my SIL and I went to Italy several years ago. She'd been a couple of times and I'd never been--hadn't even really been interested, to tell the truth. But she ding-donged me until I agreed. We left our hubbies home and spent 3 days in Venice, 4 in Florence and 4 in Rome.

Oh my gosh! I'd love to go back--even if it was to the same cities again. Like you, I spent a lot of time alone since SIL and I are different walkers/viewers/shoppers. We always ate together though since she spoke some Italian and could order the wine, lol.

And like you, I'd like to take dh back so I have someone to share the sights with.

Thanks for sharing your pics!


5:19 PM  
Blogger LSB Author, Darragha Foster said...

I went solo to Iceland when I was 18. It was the adventure of a fact...two lifetimes. I had a remarkable past-life experience which ended up being the basis for "Love's Second Sight."


5:31 PM  
Anonymous Bobby Jo said...

My favorite place would have to be the mountioans outside Colorado Springs Colo. I was raised there and even thought I dont live there anymore, I still love them. There are places that will let you relise the wonder of our world and make you relize that God does exist ... lol

5:40 PM  
Anonymous Rae Morgan said...

San Francisco is my favorite place and, yeah, I get to go back this Spring for nine days -- we're meeting our son on Spring Break of U of Oregon. I looooove S.F. I can smell the ocean now. Taste the yummy food. Feel the wind with just the right amount of moisture. My calves are not looking forward to the hills -- but walking and climbing them allows me to eat more of the yummy food.

I can't wait.

Rae Morgan

7:32 PM  
Blogger Robin's kawaii said...

i've never been out of the contry, i must admit...

i was never anywhere that made me feel as peaceful as North Carolina and Tennessee. i saw some Cherokee ring dances, and participated a bit(all pieces of my heritage are a source of pride).

Walking on trails, and drinking from streams, and having springs raining water on me... i felt, for the first time, like what i am: a Witchy girl. LOL, the ironic thing is, i was at church camp. But i did feel holy. i felt the gods. And that's what matters, ne?

Many blessings,

10:13 PM  
Blogger Dee said...

Having driven a tractor trailer for 8 years, hubby and I saw a lot of the country and western Canada. The US is beautiful and diverse.

Rae, I'm with you on San Francisco!! We're hoping to attend a week's conference next fall.


11:34 PM  
Blogger Meljprincess said...

I traveled all over Europe in '84. That changed my life.

One of my very favorite places is Saratoga Springs, NY. I feel a connection to upstate NY. It's as if I've been there before in a past life. I also love the state of VA.

I've done so much traveling and moving all my life and I've been in every state in the US except for some of the most northern ones. *G*

8:26 AM  

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