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rome: ladies, i’m meeting a lovah. yes. a lovah.

September 16, 2009

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Before I hop in a car with Susannah and Thelma & Louise it to Squam later this morning (sans Brad Pitt and the desert and driving off an enormous canyon… ok… it’s more like we’re doing a road trip through the White Mountains if you wanna get technical about it but perhaps we’ll wear cool glasses and scarves in our hair and go crazy with our cameras and sing along to some tunes on the radio… so close enough).  As I was saying, before I do all that, I simply must share with you that last weekend in Rome way back in March and then we’ll be done with the travel posts (fucking finally eh?).  Y’all remember London Joe?  Well… the man met me there and let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like finishing a month-long solo trip with a romantic weekend in Rome.

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March 26, 2009

At the train station at 7:15am, the gulls of Cinque Terre are having themselves a good laugh. One said something and they all threw their heads back in a minute-long guffaw. On the train, in a small compartment seating six, there are people with laptops & lap dogs, perfume & pewfume and middle aged women with big round bellies and sausage-like fingers eating lunch. The guy with the cart goes by, ringing his bell.  I order an espresso for the ride. The scenery rushes by.  Mountains flatten to dry land.  I try to sleep but I can’t stop thinking about Joe & Rome. Rome & Joe. Will it be as lovely and amazing as London? Will it be awkward?

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March 27, 2009

At the airport arrival gate, 10 minutes late, I feel a tap on my shoulder and there he is, in his black coat, looking ravishing.  Whatever awkwardness I thought would be there dissipates in an instant slow kiss, me holding his collar, him holding my face between his hands.  On the 45-minute shuttle into town, we are one of those couples.  The bus is full so we stand and snog the entire time.  This would surely be defined as totally inappropriate public display of affection anywhere else in the world… but we’re talking about Rome here, people.  It is expected.  Nay!  Encouraged!

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The rest of the weekend is like a dream.  I’ve been traveling alone for a month and it’s so nice to be able to share the experience, to turn over to someone and say “OMG isn’t this beautiful?”, to have a hand to hold onto, a shoulder to lean on, someone to hug through it all.

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Random first day facts

  1. Everything in Rome is massive… even the sky looks like a fresco.
  2. The Colloseum.  When you see something for the first time in real life, something you’ve seen in countless movies and endless photos, it’s a bit surreal.  You can’t really wrap your head around it.  Gladiator wasn’t just a movie.  Games were played out here, thousands of people and animals died, blood was shed in this Colosseum.  It’s pretty darn freaky.
  3. The Foro Romano.  We each buy a can of beer from the street vendor and a box of smarties… because beer and smarties, makes total sense right, in a place where you could be sipping the best wine and eating the best cheese on the entire planet? We walk in the golden light of sunset, through the ancient ruins of what used to be… you guessed it, a massive forum.  It is so stunning, I could spend an entire day there.  Alas, it is not long before we are shooed out.  Closing time comes too early.
  4. I try a bidet for the first time at the hotel.  Come on!  Like you wouldn’t.  And I nearly burn my ass off.  Internet… bidet water is not room temperature.  You’ve been warned.
  5. Potato pizza is the shizza!

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March 28, 2009

Saturday morning.  Two bodies, hair tangled, sheets wrinkled, laughter.

We hit the pantheon, latté in hand.  We stop for fruit at a little shop where the oldest, most adorable Italian man who can barely count the coins in his drawer,  dramatically gestures tutti? to ask if that will be all.  He is perfect.  In the barber shop next door, an even older man takes great pride in drying another man’s hair.  Slowly, with a comb.

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We eat pizza and drink beer by the Fontana del Moro in the Piazza Navona.  We are none too impressed by the crowded Spanish Steps and all the posh shops.  The Vatican, on the other hand, is a pretty powerful experience, even for the non religious.  Perhaps it is because you feel the energy of all those who believe and the grandeur of it all is overwhelming and the richness of it all is staggering.  The Sistine Chapel, leaning into Joe, looking up at Michelangelo’s masterpiece is neck breaking and awe inspiring.

We stop for gelato.  Joe fully supports my gelato-a-day mission.  He goes for the big cone with ginger, pear & wine and caramel.  I dive into millefeuilles and almond nougat.  It then starts to sprinkle so we duck in for a shot of espresso.  Note to all.  10 euro for a hot chocolate and a macchiato is a lot of euro.   I suggest you walk a few blocks out of Vatican city and get it for half the price.  Having said that, the entertainment value of the barista alone is worth it.   He pumps out 4 espressos al banco, bing, bang, shlack, shlack, in 2 minutes flat.  His pride and efficiency blow me away.

On our way back to the hotel, we pop into a little bar on Via Nazionale for whiskey and a tuna panini (that should be a band name, don’t you think?).  We end up each having two doubles and stay for hours, lost in lively conversation.

Later that evening, we go to Est! Est! Est! for dinner.  It is one of Rome’s oldest and most traditional family owned pizzerias.  The place isn’t fancy.  It’s quite simple, actually and very diner-esque.  And to be honest, we’ve had better pizza on this trip but it is a lovely experience none-the-less.  We play the “5 things you would bring on a desert island” game.  He answers whiskey, bacon sandwiches, iPhone, frisbee, pen & paper (I let it slide as one).  I answer: camera, music, notepad, pizza and espresso (all in unlimited supply, of course, batteries included and water being available goes without saying).

On our way out of the pizzeria, we kiss on the street and nearly bump into an 70-something year old man.  I somehow expect him to be irate at two tipsy youngins making out on the street.  Instead, he gives us the biggest smile and the twinkle in his eye says he loves love.  We laugh so hard.  It is truly a perfect Italian moment.

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We find an Irish pub for a whiskey night cap (it’s our thing).  One night in Rome.  One Irish Pub. One Canadian girl.  One English boy and Beyonce playing on the radio.  The world is a funny place.

Back at the hotel, we stay up until 2am listening to Nina Simone on his iPhone. We talk about how magical this weekend has been.  How we will never forget it.  How lucky he is that I showed up on his doorstep.  How lucky I am that he met me in Rome.  I think we both know that it is perhaps perfect because it is short lived.  Neither of us is ready for a relationship anyways.  We like our freedom too much.  It is, after all, what allowed this whole weekend to transpire. But I think we also both wish we could explore it further and see where it could take us.

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March 29, 2009

Sunday morning, I walk him to the train station.  The good bye kills me though I try hard not to show it.  I had promised him my funky Canadian water bottle but had it in my hands as the train doors closed.  I ran after the train and tried passing the bottle to him through the open window but the opening was too narrow.  He let it go, I watched the train speed away.  Such a sad goodbye.  It should have been shot in black and white.

As I walk back to the hotel, all the emotions of the past month come bubbling to the surface and I cry for a good 10 minutes.  I must admit that I have a slight urge to go home, a touch of melancholy, a come down from a crazy beautiful high, but I still have 2 and a half days and miles to go and I intend to make the most of them.  So I brush myself off and get ready for another adventure.  What else can I do?

The feelings I am left with as I leave under a grey roman sky and board the train to Salerno are a slight whiskey hangover, fatigue from late, late nights, deep sadness at it being over and intense ecstasy for it all happening to begin with.  I mean… how many people can say that they have met up with a lover in Rome? It was by far one of the most memorable, sweet, amazing, fun-filled, life-loving weekends of my life.

Thank you for everything Mr. Stewart.

***

My trip continues to Salerno, Pompei and Positano but I am going to stop writing about my travels as there are so many other things going on in my life that I want to share.  Instead, in the dead of winter, when it is cold outside and the snow is falling in heaps, I’ll go back to those sunny places when I need to the most.  Thanks for stopping by and reading about my adventures.  I am looking forward to new ones… like the one I’m about to embark on in a few short hours.

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. September 16, 2009 9:16 am

    le sigh…..le sigh

    have fun at SQUAM

  2. Alison permalink
    September 16, 2009 11:34 am

    ditto Charlane

  3. September 18, 2009 3:07 pm

    oh you beautiful sassy word-wonder. you were the other shooting star the other night and, well, i think i love you.

    here’s to growing a friendship that was always there. we will, indeed, jet-set alongside one another someday. and it’ll be a sublime and irreverent journey, full of images and stories and our brightest beingness.

    con mucho amor,
    lisa

  4. September 19, 2009 5:07 pm

    So envious about Squam…have a super time and please give Elizabeth an extra big hug for me!!

    Your trip was SO incredible. It’s weird that it’s over and it was really over ages ago! 🙂

  5. Karen permalink
    September 20, 2009 9:35 am

    Hi Jeanine – I followed the link from Susannah’s blog and have fallen in love with your amazing travel stories and beautiful photos. How lucky you are to have had such wonderful experiences. London Joe – oh my! I’m in Australia and am looking forward to reading more of your adventures. Thank you for sharing them. Best wishes.

  6. September 21, 2009 8:18 am

    Hi Jeanine,
    It was great to meet you in person this past week. Thanks so much for sharing your travel stories here. I loved reading about them and travelling vicariously through your words and images! I look forward to hearing all about your adventures to come.

    Stéphanie

  7. September 21, 2009 8:41 am

    please please please will you just move to London already, hang out with me and see what can happen with joe. i think he wants that too 😉 x

  8. September 21, 2009 8:42 am

    Believe me, I have NOT grown tired of your travel posts. Although, because they have been main content of your blog for a while it does seem as if you are still on that wonderful trip! So it will be good to get caught up on life since your return. Still. I too will be in need of some golden, gilded, glittering Italian vistas come January. So I look forward to that!

    : )

  9. September 22, 2009 11:25 am

    I want to see the movie…pleeeeeeeease…I know you are not ready for a serious relationship, but the romantic in me wants you to pursue it…xo t

  10. October 12, 2009 3:17 pm

    I’ve loved reading your travel adventures and look so forward to picking up where you’ve left off when the windchill is somewhere around my ankles. Perfect. In the meantime, I’ll hit your more recent posts. It’s been ages since I’ve had the time to sit here and dig in.
    Happy Thanksgiving!!!
    Thank you for sharing…

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