Now that my back is barely manageable (I think it is very seriously trying to teach me something) I am able to approach Rome in a more normal manner. So we have gone back to our regular tourist rounds and methods, but have suddenly been surprised to find everything has changed. We've been here for three weeks. Disregarding that we leave in a week as irrelevant, somehow the city itself has crossed over for us. Somehow we have ceased to entirely be visitors. For whatever this tiny space of time is, we live here!
Yes, it's delicate, and the bubble will imminently pop, but as my back is urgently trying to instruct me: now is now, and it is whole and complete. So here we are now, living here.
There is so much I have not managed to mention in this journal of our trip. Each day I have written about has been a mere highlight of one or two events from that day. But each day we have been here there have been a dozen things I could have discussed instead, but didn't.
For instance, there is Retrobottega.
A couple blocks from our house is a sort of slow food fast food joint- Retrobottega. Exuberant chefs behind the counter make lovely food for you to ferry off to your own table to enjoy in peace. They are friendly, the food is exceptional and moderate in price, and some of it fits in the short range of what we can eat. It is more about food than it is about Italian food. I'm pretty sure we have been here now ten times. Do they know us? Sure, why not. We know them. But we both observe the forms, the customer patron relationship. We order at the counter like any tourists and we all hold it as a secret that we love it there and keep coming back.
But today that all fell down. They decided to acknowledge that we live there. They offered us our regular orders. "Do you want your usual." They said, in so many accented words. They made suggestions exclusive to us and treated us like old friends. Suddenly we were in. "The eggs?" Yes. To the man who wears the AS Roma shirt I say the secret word: Salah, their speedy wing. He grimaces. I, not knowing but a shred of Italian, understand him, knowing already the pain of being a Roma soccer fan.
It's not just Retrobottega though. An old lady in our apartment greets us on the stairs. It's a grunt of a greeting, but she has stopped merely expecting us to be gone. Anywhere in the city we stop even thinking about how to get home when it's time, our feet just take us there. We have relaxed. And perhaps the surface joys and thrills have faded, the thrill of just being in Rome, but only the tineiest bit. And with that, the love for this more normal and true to itself place has grown deeper, and there is a Rome tattoo, written in fanciful largess, into our hearts.