Thank you and Goodbye. This is the phrase printed on the bottom of every receipt you get in Italy. It seemed somehow fitting as I bid farewell to my ancient city.
Writing my final dispatch from Rome was almost impossible. What could I possibly say to wrap up this adventure? That last week, I walked from temple to church, campo to piazza, ristorante to trattoria, trying to embrace it all in one big abbaccio–hug. And, it is impossible to capture any city in one week.
I met so many interesting people in Rome. There was Riccardo, the Italian lawyer who lived and worked in Washington, D.C.–adorable, worldly, and hugely simpatico during the week of the attack.
Takahiro, the Japanese man who studied with me for twelve weeks. He had a brilliant grasp of the grammar, but spoke very little in class. Generally, he embraced just one phrase in Italiano: non capisco. To Taka, I say this: you capiscoed more than you realize.
There were my two beautiful teachers: Chiara and Nadia. With them, I not only experienced three fabulous months of learning, but more cappucinos, ciambellas and acqua minerales than I can count.
How did I learn so much about the world? I need only list the names of just some of the people I’ve grown to know, my cittadini del mondo: Tomer, Gregers, Jay, Nina, Hiromi, Maita. Ipollita, Michele, Valeria, Cristina, Nichole, Romero.
There were also the places and things. Per esempio, the cobblestones that cover every street in Rome–the proof of its age. I walked over so many cobblestones, that I am sure that the soles of my feets have little grooves in them. There wasn’t a day when I walked on those ancient stones, that I didn’t feel the history in them.
There were the many bariste, almost always male, who make the most beautiful espressi and cappucini in the world. With finesse.
There was Gina–my friend and la padrona a casa. She shared her home with me, but also her life. She cooked for me, washed my clothes, and kept my room neat and tidy (when I wasn’t looking). She talked with me even as I massacred her language, listening with humor and patience. She comforted me through the good and the brutto. I probably learned more about being Italian from this lovely, simple woman than from anyone.
Better authors than I have written eloquently about this ancient city. But, none of them have lived the same moments as I. To my friends, my family, my readers, all of you who have visited rulingwoman-dot-com more than 400 times, I thank you for sharing these experiences with me.
Of course, there are many more adventures to come. Ruling Woman is not saying goodbye. She is just changing addresses.
Try as I might, it is hard not to think of this as my “last” week in Rome. It isn’t. I know that. I know that I will return. But, I leave this ancient city a changed woman.
Not too long ago, a colleague in New York, a veteran newsman, said to me that the country to which I am returning is not the country that I left. I knew that I would return a changed woman after three months in Europe.
I did not realize that the world–my world anyway–would also change. I have shared so many of my experiences here in Italy, from this very desk. I have gained a world view in Rome, living and studying a different language and culture. Every day I have engaged in discorso with people from all over the world: Germany, Denmark, Israel, Japan, Spain, Italy, Russia, Switzerland, Guatemala, Ireland, Wales. Not melting-pot people, but i cittadini del mondo.
Of course, I am anxious about returning to New York. I have feared that folks will tell me that I do not understand what has happened to America because I wasn’t there. And that I will suffer some kind of delayed reaction.
I shall choose, however, to look at it from this point-of-view, un po p.o.v. I will share my world view. They will help me grieve. And, together we will learn from one another.