There are several things we have discovered while we travel. We find incredible slices of Europe when we weren't looking for them. We also found out things about ourselves while we wander around Europe. On these pages we'll tell you about these occasions. We hope you enjoy them.
Life Without a Net
Have you ever have one of those stupidity checks? As I fell asleep it hit me; What am I doing here? Here I am, halfway around the world with my only children. I really didnít want to replace them either. So they're all I have. What was I thinking? Making a trip like this without their father. Did I think I could handle this?
Of course I can. YES, I CAN! But first I had to convince my mom. She is the queen of worry. She worries about things that haven't happened yet. She worries in the morning, when we all start our day. She worries when she doesn't know what we're doing and she worries when she does know what we're doing. She worries about dad. Well, ok, there's reason to worry about dad. Do you remember Crackitus Potts in the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? Well, that's my dad. Dad lives on the edge and if there isn't an edge, he creates one, and mom makes the nets to catch him. They're made for each other. I, too, like the edge and mom knows this.
"So, mom," I said," I have always wanted to go to Europe, I'm making my dreams come true. Be happy for me! Celebrate with me! And who better to take the girls than their own mother! Would I let anything happen to them!?" It went on like that for weeks. Finally, it hit her - I am in fact, their mother. "Ok," she said, (like we had to have her permission) " Go have a blast."
We were to be at breakfast at 7:30a.m. We barely made it. As soon as we sat down, Leisl, my 11 yr. old daughter, informed me she had a headache. "Oh, and my stomach hurts," she said. This was our third day on our first trip to Europe and she had completely collapsed from exhaustion. Well, I don't think too well without my coffee, so my response was the typical mother comeback: "You need to eat something, honey." But, this being Rome, all we had was 6 ounces of juice and a hard roll. She ate it and still had a headache and a stomachache. I finally took inventory of her symptoms and decided she needed some sleep. We went back to the room.
When people found out she was sick, we were inundated with Echinacea, Tylenol, Vitamin C, and scores of other "home remedies". Being afraid she was really sick, I made sure she took all the elixirs. By golly, if she didn't fall right to sleep. She slept until 4:00p.m.
As she slept, I sat in the 6 foot tall shuttered window and watched the vending procession - fruit stands, delivery trucks, scooters, flower stands, people, more people, honking and more honking. Always there's honking. In Rome it isn't so much of a "Hey, you're in my way buddy, or ìIdiot, turn on your signal!"Anger isn't the reason people honk their horns in Rome. It's more like, "Hey, I'm turning." or "Hey, I know you!" or "Oops, I missed my street," or "Hey, there's a woman sitting in that window." That's when I got out of the window. This is Italy.
Thank goodness Leisl wasn't sick, just exhausted. While she slept, the maid came into make up the room. I asked if she could wait till later. Oh sure. She had a kind countenance. She wanted to know if Leisl was okay, as she nodded towards the bed. I told her, "just tired." She wanted to know how many children I had. Two and you? Two, also. How old are they? 14 and 11, and yours? 25 and 20, where do you live? On and on we went. I felt such a connection with her, she was as devoted to her daughters as I am. All this communication and we didn't share the luxury of speaking the same language. I spoke no Italian, she spoke no English. This was one of the first encounters I would have while traveling that keeps me going back again and again, a comradery of the human race.
At 4:00, she woke up, showered and declared she felt great. She wants to study painting in Italy, with a 6 foot shuttered window that opens up to a street where delivery trucks rattle by and everyone honks their horns, and flower vendors yell at passers by. As she slept she was cataloging all she heard into her psyche and decided she belonged there.
When we got to Pompeii it happened again. I was buying a souvenir for my dad. Vendors are set up all down the street in walking distance from the sea. In Pliny's day, Pompeii was right on the shore, but now it's 60 or 70 feet away. I was having a hard time making a choice and one particular vendor was so warmhearted and helpful. "Who is it for? How old are they? Will you ship it home? Do you like Pompeii?" That one stopped me. I looked around at the ruins, the sea, the volcano, the heat in the air. I could feel the heat making my hair grow inch by inch, minute by minute, ahhh. I could feel the heat in between my toes, in my fingernails, it was wonderful. I love the heat. I'm solar powered. I live for the sun. Then there's the smell of the fish, the thick Italian accents, the beautiful dark skin. Do I like Pompeii? I love Pompeii! My only regret is that I couldn't stay longer or come back more often. I bought a vase.
As he was wrapping it, he said, "Remember me, please, you must remember me!" He said it over and over. I always look for meanings in my life and often wonder why he was so adamant. Anyway, it worked. I have remembered him and the whole incident. I could pick him out in a crowd of Italian faces. Maybe he just wanted to make sure the moment wasn't a blur. Ummm? That's it! Another connection I won't forget, a comradery of the human race.
We went to dinner at a sidewalk cafe' , had a conversation I don't remember. We went to Florence, had gelato. We went to the Riviera, we went shopping. We went to Paris, and ran in the rain. But all that mattered was that my daughters were with me and we were without a net!
- By Elizabeth Trester
I LOVE THAT FEELING!!!!!