Thursday, August 2, 2012

Early Onset Post-Departum Depression

With only a few days left before we head back to California, it's time to reflect on our 25-month-long, Rome-based Grand Tour, summarize some of the highlights, recount the low, and share a few observations that might perhaps help others considering such a move.

Our room with a view from apartment #2.
In sum, the experience was incredible and we anticipate it will have a profound impact on all our lives. Yet, our adventure didn't disprove the adage that Italy is a land of extremes in that "the highs" were indeed dizzying and "the lows" rage-inducing, but we have no regrets (except perhaps the experience of contracting and battling headlice in our Trastevere rental soon after our arrival).

Rome is where a dreamy present meets the granite past -- as someone in a velvet waistcoat with high collar and inlaid walking stick most likely noted (while headlice-free) long before me. It's also where the gelato induces paroxysms of pleasure, the light at sunset really is as stunningly beautiful as everyone says and there's no parking -- unless you're a native and consider the sidewalk to be an option.
  • What I anticipate I'll miss most - Tutti nostri amici, the American Academy in Rome, the view of the Villa Aurelia from our bedroom window, the amazing lunches prepared by Giovanni and many others at the Rome Sustainable Food Project, Mozzarella di Bufala so fresh it squeaks between your teeth, the ubiquity of great espresso, the outdoor concerts, jogging in the Villa Pamphili, the seasonal palette of produce at the outdoor markets, cat ladies, opera as an integral part of the elementary school curriculum, walking 8 minutes down the stairs to the centro storico, prosecco toasts in the Bass Garden, yoghurt gelato at Miami Gelateria, the breezes on the Gianicolo, fresh truffles grated over pasta at tableside, the absence of saggy pants, watching murmurations of starlings from our terrace in the autumn and the frenetic flight of parrots year-round, walking everywhere, public transportation, not needing a car to travel out of town, cheap cell phones, communal living.
  • What I'll miss least - Roman drivers bearing down on me and the kids in crosswalks, the wildly fluctuating temperatures of Italian showers, the ubiquity of smokers, the disappointing pastries (generally look much better than they taste), the prospect of having to obtain anything official, pick-pockets, the acceptability of littering, the oppressively hot summer scirocco, waiting 30 minutes for the #75 bus, communal living.
No doubt the preponderance of positives will prevail in my memory and bring us back again for more. In the meantime, if provoked to a bout with Post-Departum Depression, I'll just ask the kids to brighten things up by singing a few arias from Don Giovanni

We have a lot to look forward to and I'm encouraged by the prospect of starting a new chapter of our lives that involves breaking bread with old friends again, hosting new friends around our table, getting my hands back in our garden and rejoining the community. Even more importantly, the kids will be attending a new school later this month -- and when class is in session I'll have the kittens I promised them all to myself.

Arrivederci Roma!
Romance and poetry, ivy, lichens, and wall-flowers need ruin to make them grow.
     -from Hawthorne's Preface to The Marble Faun

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  4. Now that two years have passed, how has your wonderful list of what you expected to miss worked out?

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