Thursday, June 20, 2013

When in Rome, do as the Romans do…

Flight There

I'm on my way to Rome. Or rather, I'm on a coach that will take me to the airport and then I will be on my way to Rome. This morning I woke up, went to work as usual, came home a bit early and now I'm on my way to Rome. Something that takes most people months to plan feels like a mid week errand. Taking off to a foreign city sounds very romantic and care free, but when you're actually doing it, it doesn't feel that way. I'm slightly nervous and quite a bit anxious. Nervous implies worry or anticipation about something specific. Anxious is more like your brain and body going into overdrive for no reason, and staying there, like someone leaving the kettle on too long and not being able to turn it off. (And them freaking out because you can't turn it off. And then freaking out because you need to stop freaking out. ) So all those dreamy Pinterest photos with a cavalier quote slapped on it are wrong. I'm not whimsical. I'm not carefree. But I want to do this.

I'm passing gorgeous English countryside. Soft green hills dotted with sheep, lambs, cow and stone farmhouses. Anthony is next to me texting everyone he knows about our trip. I haven't texted anyone. Somehow I don't really want to say "I'm going to Rome" because of everything that goes along with it. I'm not sure how I'm going to navigate the city. I don't know the location of where we're sleeping tonight. I don't speak the language of the city. We don't have a clear itinerary. Our online Vatican reservations never went through. Anthony functions different. I asked him if he knew how to get where we are staying tonight. He said yes, but by yes he means, "No but I know the stop on the metro that is closest but I don't know how to navigate the metro and I have no idea how to get to the metro from the airport. " He's not even worried. And I probably shouldn't be either but it's hard with that overboiled kettle feeling under my skin. I've let that feeling take over before and I've lived to regret it. I have to just take one thing at a time, survive this coach ride for instance, and somehow learn to trust God and trust my husband. Oh, and in the middle of that, figure out how to enjoy Rome.

Flight Home

It was the moonlight on the wing that made me look outside. I always know the pale glitter that is moonlight. Sometimes I'm not sure and I check anyway, but when it's the real thing I always know.

I looked and it was a slender ladylike crescent low in the sky. I guess having a view so much higher than the clouds makes her light seem much brighter. She's accompanied by a bright sentry star or two. I can't see many, for its not yet night. It hasn't been night, or quite day, for a few hours now. The sky is a deep rich dark blue, careful not to let its hue get too dark. At the very edge, the rim of the world that we are flying toward fades into a light aqua with an ever so thin line of orange before the black of the horizon meeting the sky. This lingering moment normally lasts only a few minutes while the stars come out one by one. Not this time. This time, we are chasing twilight, lingering in the sky while the world turns beneath us. It's altogether separate, a moment of suspended belief lasting for hours. The place magic makes its home. You feel if you were out in it, anything might happen. But we are not meant to take part. We are only travellers. Indeed it would be too much for our fragile selves, it would tear us apart. We sit quietly in our vessel and hope for home. Down below, I see a glittering sprawl of lights like a spiderweb in the grass. I wonder what city it is. But it's not a city, not from up here. Cities have people with lives and futures. From up here, it's only a glittering wisp of the moment and of course it is gone soon. My stomach tightens and I loose sight of the horizon. We must be descending. This is the best part of the trip. The going out is pretty exciting, the foreign city full of sights is overwhelming, but the very best feeling is the coming home. And home, at the moment, is a small faded flat in a small university town in a small country that was once much more important than it is now. Home is old stone churches, students on bicycles, faded brick and quaint, illogical street names. Home is my tiny kitchen, my dried roses, my books and living room window. Husband typing contentedly and dinner in the oven. Home.

It's dark now, the blackness overtook us. On the tip of the wing a bright light is pulsing like a heartbeat. Each time it flashes, it momentarily illuminates the rain, looking speckled and elongated in the brief snapshot. It looks like tiny mites, eating the magic away and leaving the darkness as residue.
Welcome to England.  It's raining.

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