Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Living like a local

As it happens during periods of life (my life anyway), I have been going through a period of not living like a tourist, a rather long period at that. In fact, I have been living not like a tourist, but like a local in Rome for many months now, way too many months. And I will be very frank, living like a local in Rome sucks. All those quirks that are amusing as tourists, charming as visitors, unique as travelers to Rome are irritating, predictable and frustrating to the people who live it day in and day out.



When you arrive at a store and the opening hours say 14:00- 20:00 and it is 15:15 and the store is closed, as a tourist you say, “Oh those funny Italians, probably out having coffee. They really know how to enjoy life.” When you left work specifically to go to that store and it is your 4th visit because every other time there was also some reason it was closed, your reaction is “What in the world? Don’t they ever work?” Or when you wait 45 minutes for a bus, as a tourist you say, “At least it is sunny out. When was the last time it was sunny in February back at home?” As a local you say, “For crying out loud, I could have walked there and back (and probably would have) if I weren’t carrying these heavy bags of groceries.” The scenarios go on and on.

Whereas living like a tourist can, at moments, be the inspiring, fantastical, romantic life you see in the movies. Living like a local is none of those things; it is just ordinary, regular, everyday life in a city.

In periods like this, I make sure that my ordinary, regular, everyday activities can incorporate bits of the touristy-vacation-style-of-life. When running, for example, I take a slightly longer route that will take me by the Coliseum. Or if I have the mundane errands of picking up shampoo and face cream, I sometimes make it a point to do them in the Historic Center to see the city light up in an orange glow at night. I have to remind myself of the tourist point of view otherwise I become a much grumpier person (and this blog would be called Living like a Curmudgeon).



So as much as life has been requiring me to take care of the trivial things, you know, like health, money and career, I have been reminding myself not to get too comfortable in the local perspective. Because in the seemingly endless stream of doctor and dentist appointments, transportation pass renewals, income and tax declarations, government identity registrations and the variety of other paperwork/busywork, Rome can quickly lose its luster.

I will soon share with you two other stories that haven’t helped Rome in the luster category, but then I will brush that away and once again seek the inspiration that is inside of this city (as within every city) because I never know how much longer Rome and I have together. If these are the last moments, they should be great ones.

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