>when in rome . . .
another shot of julia and i at the zurich street parade
(original photo found on julia’s website here)
yesterday evening i wandered the streets of rome, looking for the trevi fountain made famous in fellini’s La Dolce Vita. as i skipped along the road, i suddenly had a strong sense of deja vu.
rome. it looks like beirut. the buildings are climbing and collapsing on top of each other, and new structures have been haphazardly thrown upon the dillapidation of previous structures.
wreckage upon wreckage. disaster upon disaster.
there is a grime to the previous gilt-beauty that once was rome. i felt like i was back in beirut.
last week i had a dream that i had returned to beirut during the current conflict. we drove around in a bus, trying to chase the bombs that flew over our heads, trying to anticipate each ground zero. as the bombs descended, we scattered like startled pigeons, but then ran toward the blast with a giddy glee.
suddenly i was in haifa, and the opposite was true. we were running toward the descending bombs, then running away from the decay, showing off our war wounds.
there was a joy in the war, that dream haunted me all day.
at the trevi fountain, i sat on a marble bannister and watched as the hoards downed gelato. one woman had two cones in one hand. what is the appeal, i keep asking myself, of throwing yourself into the gelato nightmare? it tastes like heaven, but you’ll probably get to heaven sooner once the coronary kicks in.
a man from holland named pascal (julia, i shit you not!) struck up a conversation with me after we both had a giggle over the two-coned woman. he had actual roller skates in his bag and he was genuinely interested in my masters degree. blue eyes and orange arm bands, he was a sight.
trevi fountain carries with it a tradition. stand with your back to the fountain. throw coins over your right shoulder into the water. one coin means you’ll find your way back to rome one day. two coins grants you a wish.
i scooted through the crowds, closed my eyes, turned, and threw two coins. i wished for the same thing i’ve always wished for, ever since i learned to wish on the first star of the night . . . when i return to toronto, let’s see how quickly the wish comes to fruition . . .
as i got up to leave, saying goodbye to pascal, he stopped me and asked if he could buy me dinner for the following night.
i’ve been in rome for barely a few hours, and already i have to navigate through the men, i unenthusiastically thought.
(fyi, i’ve gotten emails from some of you munchkins out there, wondering why i hate the attention so much. it’s important to realize that while women always enjoy compliments on their appearance, they’re not complimenting me and offering to buy me things because i’m soooo beautiful, or whatever. it’s simply because i’m a woman and they think they’re allowed to talk to women this way. dehumanization is the process of turning someone into something. i am a thing to them. something to possess. but i’m a human being. i’m a human being. i’m a human being. not a walking vagina.)
i walked away laughing up to the sky.
the streets rise and fall over narrow hills, and as the sun was swallowed like a python by the horizon, i could see st. peter’s basillica glistening in the golden rays. the vatican is considered the smallest country in the world, the only absolute monarchy left. 100 acres of roman catholic bullshit.
i’m still debating whether or not i should take a peak at the sistine chapel (or the “christine chapel” as i secretly call it). a part of me wants the bragging rights, but a bigger part of me hates everything it stands for.
in the end, doesn’t pride always beat politics?
i made my way to the infamous spanish steps as the night crept up into my lap. lovers drank wine. guitaristas lazily strummed their guitars. families ate cured meats and sesame breads. ill-tempered vendours unsuccessfully tried to sell red roses for 5 euros each.
i ignored the whistles and hisses. whistles are for dogs and cats and other animals, i don’t respond. i write in my journal, i close my eyes, i inhale the sunset.
i walk back to my hotel, uncontrollably singing the same tune over and over:
if you wanna be happy for the rest of your life
got to make a pret-ty woman your wife…
today i’ll probably do another velveeta bus tour of the city, then perhaps visit the colloseum, the roman forum, and the palatino.
hoping everything back home in toronto is still boring as fuck.