Wherein I got used to Rome

October 21, 2015 Candace Morris 0 Comments

Ah Rome, where even cast-off cigarette butts wedged between ancient black cobblestones look chic. Where crumbling rooftop tile looks like a picture from a high-end catalog.

Where every single thing you look at is another stunningly beautiful thing. Even the homeless woman who threw Italian curses (and her own pee) at tourists, even she was more put together than any homeless person I've ever seen. I mean, she had matching boots and cool jeans and what looked like designer glasses - plus pink face paint (she had to get the crazy in somehow).

Everything was beautiful. The churches and streets. The cafes with perfectly arranged pastries and sweet little cappuccino cups. The grocery store. The woman who made our coffee every morning. Bernini.

I traveled to Europe in pursuit of such beauty. But when beauty is simply all there is, it's natural to become jaded. Throughout my 8 days in Rome, I chided myself for this. For not appreciating the beauty every single second.

Vacations are always more powerful for me in the reminiscing. In the shuffling through photos, in the writing about it, in the way the retelling of the stories form a kind of myth. While they are happening, I can only stand and absorb. I keep my eyes open and my gullet quenched with wine. I think about nothing, knowing that upon returning to the monotony of my own everydays, I can draw upon these powers of intake.

So now home, as I reminisce, I've changed my mind about feeling ashamed for becoming jaded to Rome.

On repeat, it doesn't sound so awful.
I got used to beauty.
I got used to beauty.
I got used to beauty.

I vacated my life and learned to take the good things for granted. I was so enamored and overwhelmed by all this beauty that I stopped panicking. I stopped feeling anxious that I would lose it.

I sat still in one beautiful place long enough to see past its first impression. I was immersed enough that I went about my daily business encapsulated by gilded churches and domes without being hit in the gut by the beauty. I chatted about normal things - jobs and marriage and life - only this time our conversations were enhanced by our surroundings - an unbelievable 360 degree view of beauty.

That I got used to.

I wanted to do as the Roman's do. I hate, hate, hate being a tourist. As it stands, we only did 2 major touristy things (you simply cannot go to Rome and not see Vatican City, no matter how miserable it is).

I wanted to blend in, to get to know the local color, to be on a first name basis with my barista. It's hard to do that, really hard - especially when you don't speak Italian (much to my chagrin). It's hard when you are visiting for just 8 days. Hell, it takes some people years in a city before they feel a kinship with it.

I wanted to be inspired by Rome and Italian life - to borrow their discipline of investing time in how you look and taking care of yourself. Where the older women are much more beautiful than the younger ones - where even in the buildings, age is more beautiful than youth.

My soul desperately needed a break from daily life. But I didn't want the inspiration to come from novelty alone. Or worse, from shaming myself that I wasn't taking everything in as much as I possibly could.

So I decided to take Rome off its gilded, ancient pedestal. Consequently, I think I was able to interact with it more authentically.

For instance, I don't think many people travel across the globe to sit in a park and read T.S. Eliot. But I just had to. And now that I look back, I can relax into the beauty of it even more.

Plus, these people.


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