It has been a very big week. I woke up this morning and was literally mesmerised by the sight of the dome of St Peter’s Basilica as I rounded the corner from the Air BnB apartment we are staying in. I was almost disappointed when I found out that sunrise was at 7.30am. I never go out walking alone in the dark in the morning, especially when I am in a city that is as foreign to me, as say Rome! I wanted to be out there at 5.00am exploring. Instead I put off my alarm until just before 7am so I could be out there at the sign of first light. As I crossed the River Tiber on one of the prettiest bridges I have ever seen, it was just me and a lone pigeon. I had to stop myself pinching my arm as I muttered over and over again, “I am in Rome, I am in fucking Rome. Can you believe it. I am in Rome?”
I find myself so overwhelmed at times by the experience that is our 12 months of travel and I have to remind myself sometimes that I am 45 (not 12) and that if I am finding it overwhelming I need to take on board how the kids must be finding it. It was so sad to be leaving Providence, all those friends we had met and in particular Strachan and Robert who are, and always will be, like family. I find it a struggle to hold myself together at times, especially when the kids are coming apart at the seams. My job is to hold it together. When we got in the car to go to the train station Archie was in tears from the moment we left. Rissie however, held it together until we got to the train station whereby she simply put her hood over her face and softly keened like an Irish widow mourning her love. Fuck the stiff upper lip. I think kids have the right idea in that sometimes it is ok to tattoo your heart on your sleeve and simply to let everyone know how you are feeling.
I am not a fan of flying. For some reason flying high in the sky, turns my belly into a rock hard lump that contains a lot of gas and little else. I find it hard to sleep and even the lure of the private screen with endless movies loses its attraction after two movies. I do love the idea of the fact that when you are on a plane invariably the destination is somewhere exciting, so for me, it is just a relatively arduous process that you need to get through. The kids however are delighted and happy with delirium about every element of a plane flight. As Archie packed away the remnants of his dinner tray and gazed with fascination at his in seat handset that controlled his private screen he said to me in awe, “You know Mummy, this is like flying first class. I simply can’t believe it.” I felt absolutely chuffed that he was happy about his cheap arse economy air fare ticket and was comparing it to first class. I am sure that he thought I was a rock star mother.
We had to go via Penn Station for our transfer to JFK Airport, and repeatedly on the train to New York City Rissie asked me how long would we be staying in Penn Station. She is still scarred from our first night in the USA when those shocking delays lead to us camping out on the floor of Penn Station until we could get the first train to Providence. I assured her on countless occasions, that I had allowed ample time to get to JFK and that we would not in fact be sleeping at Penn Station. I told her that the transfer would be as easy as I could make it and there was no need to be anxious. She nodded her stern little face several times and muttered to me, “And I don’t want to get shot either.” That one came out of left field. For some reason Rissie has started obsessing about the problems of this century and they are causing her sleepless nights. But she voiced her fears so easily. I wish we could all be like children and let others know what is on our minds and keeping us up at night.
When we got to Zurich my first concern was charging my phone and seeing if I could get internet access. I had not really spoken to Mum or Phil too much about what we were going to do in the event of missing each other at the airport in Rome. For the first time in our travels I was coming across airports where WiFi was not available and internet was a difficulty. I also realised that I had left my European adapters in my backpack so time on the phone was limited. I could not get internet, my computer was playing up and I imagined that it had been infected by a major virus that was going to wipe out my hard drive and destroy my life. I worried about missing Mum and Phil at Rome airport and having to sleep on the streets whilst we wandered aimlessly for the rest of my life. If Rissie was worried about Penn Station she should be shitting herself right now. As I was about to have a complete meltdown worrying about killer viruses and me as an Aussie girl lost on the streets of Rome, the kids found a play centre near our next departure gate.
They were not remotely concerned about anything. They were tired after a long flight and were happy to run crazy on play equipment that was far too young for them. They did not care about my issues or the fact that I was about to turn into a schizo crazy bitch, they just asked me to judge who could go the fastest on the carousel. I put everything away and watched them act like lunatics. I forgot about the virus and sleeping on the streets. I ended up speaking to Mum and Phil and nothing that I worried about ever happened. Sometimes you just need to forget about everything and get on the fucking carousel.
Kids remind you to keep things simple. Rest when you are tired. Eat when you are hungry. Enjoy what makes you happy. Seeing Mum and Phil after six months away was just lovely. Being in Rome is so overwhelmingly huge that I cannot even begin to articulate what it means to me to be in this extraordinary city of a country that has lived in my dreams for decades. I think I will just keep it simple, like the kids constantly teach me to do, and say it is a dream come true.