Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hello America

This may be a controversial position to take, but holy moly, jet lag is vile.

But do you know what isn't vile? All of the choices one has when shopping in America. I went to Target to buy allergy medicine and shampoo and two hours later I stumbled out, cross-eyed from staring at the three aisles of shampoo. Three Aisles. It Was Amazing. How many choices do I have in Rome? Two. Two shampoo choices. And one is out of stock.

And so in the spirit of a world in which there are three aisles of shampoo choices, I present Hello America. It's like Goodnight Moon, but without the mouse on each page. Or the bowl of mush.

in the great big land
there was a dishwasher
and an ice maker
and HGTV
and microwave ovens

there were country back roads
and  high efficiency washing machines-- so large
that all clothes could be done in one load.

and there was flavored coffee
and central air
and products galore
for all types of hair

there were windows with screens
and frozen cuisine

hello clothes dryer
hello all you home goods i can't help but admire

hello garbage disposal and organic yogurt

hello bagels and hello mexican food
hello IPAs that have been freshly brewed

hello starry sky and
hello firefly

and hello to all things unnecessary
that i am going to buy

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Summer Post

We have been having a hella heatwave and as it is 98 degrees by 8:00 am, I should be thrilled to be getting the heck out of dodge but still, I'm feeling sad to be leaving. I am looking forward to spending huge chunks of time over the next couple of months with my greatly loved family and family of friends whose absence I never stop feeling(I have a nephew who has gotten teeth, moved on from crawling, and started walking since last I saw him!), but (dare I say it, even in a whisper?) I think Rome is starting to feel like home to me.

I will miss my neighbors who insist on speaking to me at great length, even though they know I can only catch every 7th word and the children who stop to pet the dogs and insist that Stella is both Sookie's mother and a boy and the flower boxes tumbling a cascade of blooms into the world from the smallest space or window and the umbrella pines-those Dr Seuss trees never get old-and the way that there is a ruin around every corner. I will miss the long line at the grocery store that never results in the opening of an additional lane because all available cashiers are drinking espresso and talking to the one cashier who is not ringing up groceries so much as he also is drinking espresso and chatting with the aforementioned cashiers.

I will miss having to buy movie tickets that already have a seat assigned to them as though it is a concert and the inevitable squabble because someone is sitting in the very seat that you spent 10 minutes scoping out on the map at your home computer in order to choose the optimum chair. And the dogs that are in stores and restaurants and parks and purses. Because everyone is a dog person.

I will miss the families traveling in a pack, soups to nuts; the dads in suits with children on their shoulders; the families picnicking wherever there is a spot of grass; the elderly couples walking arm-in-arm and dressed to the nines on any random Tuesday afternoon; the pockets of older women wearing winter coats on a 75 degree day, their faces turned towards the sun.

I will miss the sense of style that makes a walk outside like living in a magazine or movie and I will miss the sense of time or lack thereof where one can never be considered late because life is not meant to be lived in a hurry and I will miss that everything shuts down for several hours every afternoon or whenever the person working feel like it is time to be done. It keeps you guessing.

And I will miss that life is lived outside and I walk a minimum of seven miles a day without even noticing and the double-parked cars outside every cafe and the residents who have brought their dining room chairs outside to sit in the street and gossip or the women hanging from their windows to call out to the passersby below.

And I will miss the truly spectacular beaches only an hour away and the scarves worn in the hottest of weather because wind on the necks is responsible for every ailment and the lines of hanging laundry in the poshest of homes because clothes dryers ruin clothes and the strict rules of food and coffee because things are combined and consumed only in certain ways at certain times. Period. And the gesturing. No one simply flails their hands. The movements are as complex and orchestrated as to be a sign language all its own.

And the driving. I know. But as chaotic and bizarre and reckless as it is, it has a certain logic. Honest. And at the very least, it is funny in a horrifying sort of way.

The weather, the sunsets, the rainbows, the lizards, the all-day Sunday lunches. Gelato and pizza and mozzarella di bufala. Sheep grazing under the watchful eyes of fluffy dogs. Rather than a one-stop shop, there is the butcher, the pharmacy, the bakery, the fish store, the bread store, the open air market for fruits and vegetables. The Vespas and teeny tiny cars. The beautiful language. The greetings of "ciao bella/o!" and the double cheek kiss. The belief that breakfast should always be something sweet. The belief that children make the world go round. I will miss the person I most love.

It may exasperate me when I return in the fall, but for right now, I miss what it is to live here.