I love where I live in Rome. It's a great neighborhood that isn't saturated with tourists. Rather, it's a neighborhood full of locals who frequent the same corner bars, grocery stores, gelateria, and other shops. I see the same faces pass me by day after day as I go about my business. I love knowing that I live in an area where people who know you stop to say hello and ask how you are. It's comforting to be part of a community in such a large metropolis. And every time I get recognized here...well, it makes my day.
About two weeks ago I popped into the bar on the corner---bars are not BARS, but instead are what Americans would consider a cafe--to get a sandwich for lunch. I was paying the woman, who did recognize me despite my four month absence, when the guy who has regularly made my cappuccino over the last 2 years saw me. He did a double take and smiled saying "Ciao! Tutto va bene?" (Hi! All's good?) Yay!!! I am remembered as being a member of this community! Then, I saw him again as he was getting on his moto and strapping on his helmet to leave for the evening the other day. He stopped and said "Ciao!". I just love that. I love that I am someone here rather than just another face.
My favorite moment, though, was the other night after we went to the AS Roma match. Let me preface this by saying that Rome has two soccer teams: AS Roma and Lazio. They are bitter rivals and you are either for the one and against the one, but never for both. And people will let you know which team they support. Anyways, I stopped to pick up a pizza to go for dinner with a couple of my students. I had my Roma scarf in my hand and my girls were all wearing their newly purchased Roma t-shirts. One of the waiters started to say something to me and I was able to catch "Lazio!" So, I deduced that he was a Lazio fan. Come to find out...the pizzeria is a Lazio pizzeria. This means that the owner and all associated with the establishment support Lazio and NOT AS Roma. The owner and the rest of the waiters proceeded to give us a hard time and even went so far as to pretend not to let us order! Then, there was this kid of about 11 years who was clearly an AS Roma fan. He chimed in and shared his 2 cents. I looked over at him and said "Forza Roma!" Well. If that didn't start a rapid fire of Italian, I don't know what did. He clearly agreed and clearly told the Lazio people what's what. It was fabulous! I was a part of something big and something innate in this culture. And I loved it. I loved every minute of it...even those minutes of not understanding a word of what was being spoken to me.
I love Rome. I love living here. There's something magical and yet gritty about this city, it's people. But for all intents and purposes--it's home. There are still things that drive me nuts about this place, I miss my family and the familiarity of the US, but I've become a part of this place. And I am in love with this eternal city.