Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rome Sweet Rome

Here I am, sitting in my new white and purple bedroom, trying to figure out where I want to begin. After 24 hours of traveling alone and some serious navigation skills, I have made it to Italy. I said goodbye to my parents and sister Nicole at the Toronto airport where I began  my lone venture across the Atlantic Ocean. This was my 21st time flying, and so you think I would’ve been able to keep my cool. However, this was also my first time flying completely alone, and I barely slept on the plane. It was uncomfortable and I felt nervous the entire way there (this could also be a side effect of the fact that it was the 10th anniversary of 9/11). My plane first landed at the Frankfurt airport where I had 4 hours to roam around and do whatever my little heart desired, but unfortunately for me, I felt sick the entire time I was in Germany, and only bought a couple souvenirs (a postcard for my family, a little magnet with the temperature on it, and some newspapers). Germany was just like I imagined it would be – people were very conservative and there were pretzel stands everywhere you looked. From there, it was another 2 hour plane ride to Rome, and I was just so happy to finally arrive. But no, my travels did not end there… I had to go to Stazione Termini, the main train station in the city. As I mentioned before, I come from a very small city in Canada, and so my level of stress went from a 10 to 11.
It was extremely hot in Rome when I arrived and I was wearing a pair of sweatpants, carrying a heavy backpack, and two 40 pound suitcases. I felt like that Greek mythical character
who was trying to carry a ball of wax that kept melting in the sun and rolling back down the hill. Fortunately for me, I met these kind Danish people who adopted me when I arrived. They were two couples who were in their 50’s and they helped me carry my luggage and saved me a spot on the train. After the 30 minute train ride, everything fell apart. Including myself. I was tired and hungry and sick and sore. This Danish family helped me look for my host mom, Stefania, who I could not find for the life of me. My phone had died and I was lost. After a small breakdown, the Danish took me to the police station where they called Stefania and everything worked out from there. I was so happy to go to bed that night.
Now, the family I’m living with. They are completely loaded and live in an old (everything in this city is old) yellow apartment building close to the centre. All the floors are made of hardwood and the ceilings are at least 25 feet tall. The doors are all white with beautiful brass décor that can only be opened with even more beautiful brass keys. There are 3 terraces and my bedroom has this beautiful antique desk. There are books and pieces of art everywhere, so I am quite comfortable here. I do miss the comfort of my own bed and bathroom, but hey – this isn’t so bad. Also, the au pair before me was an American, and she must come from money since she left a huge pile of designer clothes in my closet. The girl left a raspberry coloured coat from J Crew, several vintage dresses, tweed blazers, and elegant skirts. It’s quite devastating though since she is NOT MY SIZE. I’m hoping that by eating so many carbs and gelato here that I will eventually fit into them. 

The mom, Stefania, is so sweet and understanding. The dad is a dentist who doesn’t speak a word of English, but at least if I ever have a cavity, then I’m in the perfect place. Giulia is the 9 year old girl who I take care of, and she is so so sweet. She is also dyslexic, which makes it very difficult at times for her to do what I ask, but of course I’m patient with her. Last night I helped her with her spelling and time tables, and I can tell that she’s smart. For the most part she behaves politely and she loves that I came all the way from Canada to play with her. Giulia has two older siblings – a 30 year old sister and a 24 year old brother, who I'm falling in love with. He is beautiful and sadly has a girlfriend, so that’s that. They also have a small terrier named Toby who is unfortunately brain dead. There is a second employee that also lives in the house, and I’m already depressed to write about it. 
Cely the sweetheart
They have a 40 year old maid/cook named Cely from the Philippines. Almost everyone has a Filipino living in their house because they can’t find work in their own country. Cely has a husband and a son at home where all her money is sent to. She works 13 hours a day and her bedroom is very small and connects to the kitchen. I’m not sure what this family would do without her because she does absolutely everything. I asked her if she’s seen much of the city and she told me that she never leaves the house, and I just don’t know what to say to her. She is so sweet and sad.
It’s my second full day here, and I have already tried the staples of the country. I ate lemon gelato on the first day and raspberry cheesecake on the second. I also went out for pizza which was so good that I almost cried. And the pasta… Perfecto. While walking in the streets of Rome, it is impossible to blend in. Most people assume that I’m either Dutch or from a Scandinavian country which is flattering, but when I tell them I’m from Canada, they get so excited. For example, yesterday an old man was selling flowers and he gave me a beautiful pink daisy for free after I had a simple conversation with him. He kissed both my cheeks and calls me bella every time I walk by. There is also this old couple who owns a small café and gives me a free drink whenever I stop by. I don’t really know what it is, but it looks and takes like ice tea, so I’m guessing that’s it. They don’t speak any English and I don’t speak Italian, but somehow it doesn’t matter. Tonight I’m going to my first Italian party. It’s for Giulia’s 9th birthday, but so what? I am beyond excited to see what these parents are going to pull off. Perhaps Cely will have a small break (which is unlikely) and we can eat some cake together. Tomorrow I have the day off, and Stefania is going to show me around the city a little bit more, so I’m very excited. I’m also excited to get some sleep tonight, which I haven’t had enough of since I left Canada. I still have a full pack of gravel that I will definitely have to take in order for me to actually get some sleep. I haven’t seen any important monuments yet or met any of the au pairs, but I have tried some truly delicious food which makes up for it. 

So far things are going pretty well, and I’ve already learned some very profound things since my arrival:
1. I love my mom more than anyone in the world.
2. I hate flying alone and will avoid taking a connection ever again.
3. Nothing tastes better than Italian food.
4. I love Danish people.
Like every smart Italian, I am going to take a nap and then venture back into the streets and see what the rest of my day brings me. Ciao for now.

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