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Locked down but not out in Italy

Singing from the balconies! One nice thing about this crisis ... solidarity! “Guess you’re not living like a tourist anymore,” was the funny, truthful and somewhat gut-wrenching message of a friend the day the lockdown in Italy began. Today is day 6. My beloved Italia has been hit hard with the COVID19 epidemic. With the second largest elderly population in the world, the epidemic has meant a disproportionate amount of deaths in the country. So though I haven’t been worried about contracting it myself, this isn’t about me or someone like me who, if contracted it would probably have a sucky couple of weeks and then recover. It is about if someone like me contracted it and then spread it to a person with a complicated health history or an elderly person with a weakened immune system. Eerily orderly: Lines for the grocery store, each person one meter apart In a country with no concept (and no physical room really) for personal space, and in a city with reproachable hygie

The complications of living like a tourist

I haven’t written in awhile… perhaps you've noticed, perhaps not, but I feel I owe you an explanation.

The truth is that I couldn’t faithfully write about living like a tourist when I wasn’t feeling it… not even a little. Tried as I may to snap myself out of it, I couldn't. Rome's idiosyncrasies have gotten to me lately. I lost my will to sort through the plethora of disorganized websites and find interesting things to do. I couldn’t bear to get shoved into a dirty pole on a ridiculously over-populated bus going into the center of town. I didn’t want to lug around my camera in an already too heavy purse. I didn’t feel like trying new restaurants where the waiters would likely be rude and charge you for speaking like a foreigner. I didn’t want to notice the subtle differences between one tagliatelli ai funghi and another. I didn’t like spending 40 Euros on what seems to always been the same meal at another restaurant whose name I can’t remember.

Yes, I have been out-of-sorts. This part I admit. I even admit that it is my own negative energy making the subtleties, that I loved so much before, so hard to detect now.

What I haven’t wanted to admit is that these feelings are just a materialization of a bigger issue I have been wrestling with which is: aren’t you sick of living like a tourist? Aren’t you tired of not having a home? Why is moving to Rome seemingly always your default solution? And the scary answers are: Yes, Yes and I don’t know.

But these answers, this rut I am in, don’t get me anywhere at present. If anything, these are the perfect reasons to put my own mantra into play and take advantage of the situation I am in, take advantage of living in Rome. I may be questioning why I keep choosing Rome, why I keep choosing transience, why it is easier for me to feel like a tourist than feel at home anywhere. But I know that, after many months of hard work and waiting, I now have a great job. I now have an address. I now don’t rely on skype and vacation days to make or break my relationship. I can now stop trying to organize the pieces and instead just live them. So this isn’t the time to pick apart the present.

There isn't one relationship in life that doesn’t go through rough patches: with parents, with friends, with siblings, with loves, with bosses... everything goes through ups and downs. It is the same with the relationships you have with cities. You can be enamoured with them at times and on the brink of a divorce at others. Circumstances and moods in life go in waves. This, like all things, will pass.

In the meantime, I need to take advice that I once heard: even when you don’t feel a certain way, act as if it is true and in time you’ll end up convincing yourself. And I do want to be convinced.

So I am going out to dinner tonight at another Italian restaurant, camera in my purse and ready to look for the dish that has added mint instead of basil. I will note the name of the place, give the waiters the benefit of the doubt and faithfully blog about it, if not tomorrow, then soon. Because whatever I decide about my future, I am here now and shoving my complicated thoughts aside, now is really great. I just need to leave room in my brain to realize it.