Thursday, May 3, 2012

The View from Our Window

I felt like a genuine Italian today, standing at the open window in our bedroom, leaning out over the railing, and watching the world go by in the street below. I probably didn't look very Roman to the people who glanced up and then glanced away as they walked by. Italians generally don't sustain eye contact with strangers, or at least not with this American stranger. Still, I felt like a character in a Roman travelogue, waiting for the St. Anthony parade to go by.

What I was really waiting for was our daughter Marian — to pull up in a taxi from the Rome airport. While waiting here is a bit of what I saw:

Six nuns in full habits entering the "artisanal gelato" place at the end of our block.

Two men having a conversation entirely with their hands, or so it seemed, as I could not hear and would not have understood a word they were saying anyway. They performed the Italian goodbye dance: You say something and make a gesture that seems to end the conversation. Then you walk two paces away, turn around, speak and gesture again, and then take another step away. It takes about five full rotations and an equal number of gesture sets until you're finally ready to turn your back and go. Unless your interlocutor gestures again and restarts the dance.

Six nuns emerging from the gelato shop. The mother superior ate properly with a spoon from a cup, while the five young sisters licked cones.

A Smart car parked stupidly. It had one and a half tires up on the pavement and stood at a 30 degree angle to the street. Italians are not linear, consistent, or evidently sane about the way they park their vehicles, which include motor scooters on every block.

A very elderly lady being led up the street for a walk by two much younger, very attentive women, then led all the way back down the street — a tender show of care for the aged.

The façade of the apartment building across from me reddening in the falling sunlight, which came from the direction of the Colisseum, just visible at the end of Via Marco Aurelio.

Many beautiful women, some of them riding motor scooters, too many of them smoking cigarettes.

About those motor scooters: We got lost driving into Rome this morning, and I felt like one who had strayed into a beehive, what with all the scooters buzzing around our Fiat Panda. Travel advisory: Do not get lost while driving into Rome if you do not want to kill someone on a scooter while also not killing your wife, who is gamely trying to read you directions while you absolutely lose it.

Six nuns receding up the street. One of the young nuns used her cone the way a drum majorette might a baton, leading the four others in formation, while the mother superior walked obliviously ahead.

Balconies crawling with vines and plants, but not more than the rooftops crawled with antennae and satellite dishes.

And finally a taxi coming down Via Marco Aurelio and stopping in front of our apartment building, and a tall leggy blond woman stepping out — and realizing that she was our daughter. How Marian has grown in four months! And still only 24 years old.

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