Friday, January 28, 2011

bitter:sweet

my last blog, my recounting of Rome, was entitled with this song and lyrics in mind. i love the Gershwin-esque timelessness and desperation... 










Once upon a dream, I was dying for you
Tasting only sweet, drinking memories of you
Your hand touches my cheek as you whisper softly

Don't forget to breathe
Our love will be redeemed
And when you take my hand
You'll know exactly where I am

A toast to starry nghts, seeking comfort divine
Celebrating life, swimming circles in light
And I look to the sea and hear you calling softly

Don't forget to breathe
Our love will be redeemed
And when you take my hand
You'll know eactly where I am

I hear you calling to me
See you but you can't see me
We never said our goodbyes
So dark and lonely your eyes
You'll always be in my heart
There is no death to us part

Don't forget to breathe
Our love will be redeemed
And when you take my hand
You'll know exactly where I am
You'll know exactly where I am

Friday, January 21, 2011

don't forget to breathe....


we finally arrive at Stazione Termini. seven time zones. two flights. two absurdly long lines of foreigners later. the sound of matches striking to create flame. the intoxicating rush of the smell of sulphur followed by the nearly nauseating stench of ubiquitous tar. the sound of relief and familiarity as people of all tribes and tongues engage their cellphones to connect with loved ones and relay good news of safe arrivals and meaningful, immediate travel plans, "I'm getting closer [to you]."

i launch out into the street and immediately dive backward. rental cars, mopeds, vespas all remind me that not only am i mortal, but they really don't give a shit whether i'm on the sidewalk or the street. two steps forward; two steps back... they careen at 60 mph regardless. you know, this is Italia... live, love, enjoy... and really -- don't live as if you will be held accountable. it's not worth it. this town is everything. love. sex. sensuality. history. nostalgia. politics. mafia. people arriving for the first time. people leaving for the last time. nothing matters. get caught up or get swept away. just let it happen. don't deny Roma what she wants from you. she can be a hateful bitch.

connection. when you arrive in rome you search everyone's eyes. "do you have what i came here for?" you are looking for the answers to the questions. the holy grail. i am here. the universe is with me.

from the moment i first landed in rome i had the distinct feeling i was being beckoned by a muse. a sensual, tantalizing force drawing me in, "follow me." she said... in a way that left nothing to question.

i remember the way the little girl on the bus looked at me. wanting to know my story. she spoke to her gypsy mother... knowing her future was uncertain. knowing she could just as easily be a girl on a bus in D.C. in fifteen years looking at a 10-year-old American girl thinking of this exact moment.

I remember Piazza Navona. new love, old love. worn out artists. restaurants, servers, hustle, bustle, cameras everywhere... but mostly just creative souls begging you for $20 to give you something so invaluable you might sell your soul to keep it forever. if you were to be mummified, nothing would be closer to your corpse than this keepsake. rome burns itself into you... branding you in a way that only means anything to you, specifically.

the magic of the city can only be realized when compared to its ancient wonder. walking down a cobblestone street in 3-inch heels, past bookstores and families and gelaterias. seeing natives and knowing that they have no idea the commodity of the lotus blossom that is rome. so new. everchanging... yet steadfast. this town will always be here for me. and you... just give her a chance. she can be everything you need her to be. an old man clutches his chest as i walk by, "...Mam-ma Mia!"

the city that never sleeps. is that new york? rome may sleep... but she dreams so loudly you can't help but fall down the rabbit hole. she is strong, sexy, alluring. she knows why you came here even if you don't.

roma. roma. roma... this place has something nowhere else does. you will find alleys, hills, nooks, crannies and staircases all leading to places you will remember vividly from your deathbed.

what kind of destination can be such a journey in and of itself that one never feels he or she ever truly arrived? i stayed there for three days... then six weeks... conversing with students, bus drivers, old, widowed Swiss tourists -- everyone so eager to connect. we all know she called us. from a dream. from a thought. from a past life. from a memory. she beckoned and we knew we couldn't say no. what kind of destination can be such a journey that one never feels he or she ever truly departed? do i have enough soul to leave such a chunk of it with curvaceous, passionate, unquenchable Rome? do i have a choice?

to ride the bus is to be a local for a moment. smelling yesterday's work on today's clothes is just as intoxicating as the city itself. pure humanity, experience, sweat, lust, life... knowing what it smells like on the human body to create dinner, then breakfast, then lunch, time and again for those you love so fiercely your embraces leave bruises.

what is life? is it not the intensity of connection and passionate discourse? flirtation, jealousy and passion? Rome is not a melancholy lover... she is instense and demands much.

rome- there are meaningful coincidences to occur and alleys and bus rides with your eternal identity etched all over them.

stepping out of Stazione Termini, the smell of exhaust, tar and sulphur... i smell hope and anticipation. i feel experiences that i haven't had yet. I see dreamers, lovers, vendors and wanderers that can't help but be here. right here. right now. i am among them. i am human. we have everything in common.


"How was Italy?" you asked.

"it was Italy...." i respond... and for the next ten minutes, i do you no justice as a conversation partner. I am transported to a different time and place where random strangers can relate but you can't. i loved, they loved, Rome loved.... but it was a fickle, fleeting infatuation that would be gone just as quickly as it came. I will hold on to the smell of her hair, her perfume.... her city stench forever. knowing if i could get another chance i don't think i could leave.

my intense desire for rome
----

i hear a whisper in my ear, a spiritual giggle and my muse skips around the corner... for the first time i encounter the wind. face to face. fountains, wind, stone... and solitude. i think of whoever was commissioned to make this wind. his cheeks full of air, lips pursed, eyes playful and full of sparkle... threatening to nonchalantly blow your life wherever he pleases... because what can you do to stop him?

i cross the street to visit the next wind... he looks more fierce but still well-meaning... the water coming out of his mouth reminds me of what i used to love to do in the bath as a child. for some reason having bathwater in my mouth grosses me out now.... that really must change. i can't afford to be an elitist.

i walk miles and miles... thinking how familiar everything looks. I know i'm getting closer to the Tiber. i will never forget the tale of the river running red with blood when rome was conquered. when i cross the river i hold my breath and try to drown out the pleas of the dead... so rich and velvety are their souls and screams... the river is still macabre and bloody no matter what color it is now

across the tiber -- "trastevere" -- rome gives a sigh of relief... kicks off her high heels and relaxes. the real romans are here. you don't have to know a lick of English and people are engaging.  it's just past dusk and there is a luminosity to the air that constantly has you reaching for your camera and then reconsidering. leave it. memorize every detail. it is written on your soul.

------

this time around i am back with my husband. i can't help but watch him take it all in. I am not agoraphobic in the slightest while in italy. i love blending. like a drop of water in a pond. the organic quality of the marketplace is so vibrant, individualistic and yet sharing... begging to trade, everyone yelling and screaming and things escalate... anger, lust, passion, not wanting to be ripped off, hoping you can rip somebody off... never knowing how much you will arrive or leave with. the difference is certainly that peter doesn't appreciate the crowds quite like i do. and to watch them from the outside you are almost afraid to join in. a mosh pit of pickpockets and body odor.. bad breath and people needing showers. fresh flowers, fresh fish, and homelessness.

its a beautiful picture. a crowded sidewalk. the spectrum of beauty is amazing. a young girl with a white, grecian tunic makes you think of those that are worshipped on mount olympus and why. its the kind of beauty you can't envy. you want to fiercely protect this girl and love her. worship her in her purity and innocence.  
___

oh oh oh it's magic

After collecting all the candles in the house and getting his stool from the bathroom. Elek: "I need those sticks, mama. Those magic sticks that you move and then fire comes out. I can't find them anywhere!"


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wanna Be Startin' Something

We were at El Toro Loco and the Hispanic server brought our check (la cuenta)...


Pedro: "Tip on $17?"

Me: "$4"

P: "Well... she's obviously not a veteran."

M: "What the hell is that supposed to mean? Racist."

P: "Well I thought it was pretty obvious... you saw her..."

M: "How do YOU know she's not a veteran? She's not an amputee or maimed... is it a holiday or something?"

P: "What are you talking about? I was saying she obviously hasn't been waiting tables very long."

brainsplitting love gobs

if i told you my latest job you wouldn't believe me. it makes me giggle and roll my eyes and daydream and if i were someone else i would hate me. i'm working at the all-Spanish-all-day childcare center from 12-3 pm and i just have to relieve the teachers during naptime and touch each baby once every 15 minutes to make sure they are okay


seriously. and my first day was today. and i got off early. and babies smiled and laughed and cood at me.



i am not gloating; i swear. i am in complete disbelief.


day one is finished

boss wasn't there and all the babies were sleeping... so once all the babies were asleep i left

there is something about sitting in a dark room with sleeping babies and hispanic women you don't know that makes you think "hmmm... i'll come tomorrow in the morning so we don't have to whisper in the dark"

me: boss just put on a sticky which rooms for me to go to

Peter: oh ok

me: so the first room was amazing

the 6 wks to crawling room

Peter: awwww

me: and then every other room was passed out and the ladies were like what are you doing here

Peter: oh wow. nice.
 "But I have this sticky..."

me: but i got to practice a lot of spanish with the first room and went back and hung out with the teachers/babies in the first room until they all passed out

and then boss still wasn't there and i was thumb-twiddling

1:39 PM so i told receptionist to have boss call me and i'll plan on coming in earlier tomorrow so i can watch/learn the lunchtime routine

Peter: gotcha

me: i just felt like if i hung out then i would really be in the way-- there is literally nothing to supervise except for sleeping babies...
and i met most of them and spoke Spanish to all of them so hopefully i have some cred

Peter: understandable!

me: they wouldn't dare leave me alone with the sleeping babies without instruction

it seemed strange to leave but like it would be even weirder if i stayed
and i think they are all discussing my presence, etc. today and i explained why i was hired and when i would be there so they know i'm a good addition to the crew