Saturday, April 27, 2013

Una passeggiata

There are times when I find myself in another city in Italy or another country besides Italy when I stop and ask myself: is this my life? Sometimes, it seems so surreal to me that I live in Rome, in Italy, in Europe, that I honestly have to stop for a moment in order to truly allow that truth to soak in because it seems so overwhelmingly mind-blowing to me. And then there are days when I do something rather ordinary in Rome, but because I live here, live in Rome, it becomes somewhat extraordinary. 

As I have said before, the Italians love their bus strikes. To this day, I still don't know what or why it is that they are striking. Nor do I know what the outcome of the strike is. And it seems to me that these strikes just happen to occur on the most inconvenient of days for me. So, on what was a gorgeous Friday, a day when the sun was finally shining brilliantly, spring was in the air, and a day when almost all of my students were going to be out of town in order that I could head out of Rome to a little town 40 minutes away---there was a strike. Of course. Sean, Joy, and I were left wondering what to do on a day when we didn't want to find ourselves inside the convent. We decided to go for a walk, una passeggiata, and discover our neighborhood. And thus became one of my favorite days in Rome. 

I love my neighborhood, as I've said many times before. It's just so...Roman. It's not's real...and it's beautiful. There are pockets of beautiful villas, lush greenery, vivacious parks, and wonderful people sprinkled throughout the apartment buildings, shops, and car parks. And I love to explore it, to find new and hidden treasures. 

We set off first towards our favorite chocolate shop for a sweet treat after popping into the corner bar for a coffee made by my favorite barista--Daniele. It seemed like everyone was out as we walked towards Leonidas---and they probably were considering that they couldn't get anywhere thanks to the strike. We purchased our chocolates and continued on our way. We strolled through side streets, and up hills, until we reached a park full of 'nonnas' and 'nonnos' with their grandchildren (who, of course, despite the hot sun and warm temperatures were still decked out in their winter gear of coat, scarf, hat, and boots). Across from the park is a fresh food market. So, we crossed through the park and picked up some supplies for an impromptu picnic, just the necessities---salami, prosciutto, cheese, bread, olives, roasted eggplant, pickled artichokes, apples, and wine. We, then, found a bench in the park, ate, basked in the sun, and soaked up the culture as we watched the families and older Italian men gather to talk about life and all that was going on in the world.

And it was then that that feeling of absolute awe struck me. This is my life. I live in Rome, Italy. I am doing something seemingly innocuous, but at the same time...something that most people will never get to experience. And it was then that I, once again, thanked the Lord for the opportunity that He's given me to live out my dream. It was a slice of heaven here on Earth and I breathed it in deeply, letting it sink into me, and I tucked it away so that on those days when I miss home, when Rome and Italy frustrate me or when I've finally left this place and am once again residing Stateside, I can pull it out, look at it, and remember why it is that I love this place, why it is that I am here, and be thankful once again for all that I have been blessed to experience.

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