We jogged along the Tiber.
Zig-zagged around the broken shards of glass and water bottles.
Did you know that Italy was the country which most consumes water bottles? Con gassata, usually. I forgot that Europeans did that. We stopped buying Perrier when a lady at Costco warned my mother of its unhealthy effects. You mean, besides flatulence?
Serve the Servants by Nirvana woke me up every morning I lay on the small left pocket between the edge of the bed and the contour of your body. What an unusual song to choose on the radio alarm clock, I’ve always thought but never questionned; admitedly, I found it kind of cute.
And that’s the angry, teenage angsty music I’m listening to on my Business class seat because Ocean’s Thirteen is experiencing technical difficulties and I’m feeling grungy.
How could I have missed my plane?
I’ve traveled so much. I stood in line, half-asleep, juggling a postcard on my arm and dragging the strap of my red duffel bag around my ankles. Backtrack. I was frantically looking for my passport last night, thinking I had forgotten it at Florence. Packed and unpacked my souvenirs and clothes on the rustic floor tiles. We eventually found the passport and headed off for a jog, as if it were the natural reward to an averted tragedy. What other things could I have done on this final night? Plans of wine on the Spanish Steps proceeded by indulgences on pasta, pizza, and gelato. We have arrived as students and shall return as pigs.
Also on my to-do list was to ride in a scooter (check), toss two coins in the Trevi (one for my father), and take a dip in the champagne glass fountain (left unchecked, deterred by its questionable legality). Magnificent art and sculptures enclosed in museums or burried in churches would have to remain on the idyllic canopy of my memories. On the last night, best avert Stendhal’s syndrome and remain awake. Impulse tends to find its own way towards a scheduled plan, and so I followed the light breeze beneath my feet that carried me all the way to Testaccio and over to Trastevere. We sprinted at times, raising our arms forward and exclaiming how good Rome felt that night. I think they call it the runner’s high.
Delta 77? I asked earlier, you said 10am… No, that one is the 71.
My face must have gone very pale because the boy behind me audibly commented: “that sucks,” organizing my muddled thoughts into a compact statement of fact. But the fine was much, much smaller than I had anticipated and the next plane left in two hours, which gave me just enough time to do some last minute shopping I needed to do at my indecisive, leisurely pace. I guess I was feeling kind of happy, or maybe I’m attributing the emotion with the lack of a sudden, depressive shift in mood. I floated along in a sleepless state, letting unexpected adventures occupy the part of the brain that gives you the ability to reflect and make sense of the past few hours or weeks. Temporarily grounded myself to take the escalator up to the gate as an unusually shiny Tazza D’Oro gradually emerged in my sight. I could have cried with joy right then, as I warmed my hands around a cup of sweet capuccino and looked outside the window at all the parked airplanes and the one that flew away.
“Tell me about Rome,” they’ll ask. Oh, Jesus. I need to start gathering my thoughts and notes because I don’t know how to sum up the past five weeks in a few engaging sentences which goes beyond the person’s already existing conceptions of the European city. They’ll hear it’s beautiful and know that is the case; they’ll expect us to come back with a refined sense of the aesthetic or an expanded taste palette, or merely find us fattened with pasta and Nutella. They might not know about the market that sells fresh, misshapen fruits, or the latteria which sells its tasty yogurt in little glass bottles. I could not reproduce the mirror image of the city over the river at night and the coincidence of the white arrows on the pavement which always seemed to point to the direction we were running. I wouldn’t be sure how to put into words the awkward feeling of stepping over the crumbling leaves or the cool sensation of the first crisp morning in Rome which announced the end of summer and foresaw our approaching departure. The differences between living and visiting a place becoming clear to me in the realization of these timely details.
I wanted to feel Rome. I did not want my last night to be spent sitting at a restaurant in a large group, passing the bread around and waiting for our plates to arrive. We’d have our last gelatos and our besotted farewell to the city but before that, I wanted to be liberated from the expectations and eschewed priorities of work that we had accumulated over the last days, brought upon by our own procrastinatory fault. With little sleep and an empty stomach, we dashed over the sidewalk, under the bridge, over and across, under again with a brief pause to listen to the band that was playing below. We recognized the papal coat of arms and correctly identified the bridge in the dark as Ponte Sisto when we thought we had gotten lost. Our art history teacher would be proud.
I waited so long at the queue and I just missed my flight. Can you at least let me skip ahead?
In my best Italian and batting my eyelashes. (And that’s how I got a Business class seat at no additional cost.)
G is for Gumshoe, H is for Homicide, I is for Innocence. The people in this
airplane like to read Sue Grafton novels. I don't.
I got asked if I understood English when I picked the Financial Times
over USA Today when the flight attendant offered.
I hope I don’t fall asleep too soon.
In a few minutes, the hills and tall trees of Rome will appear like
miniature from above.
We take off.