My Guy

IMG_2257I write often in Facebook posts and blog stories about my younger son. He’s a sweet and affection boy who is prone to dramatics; accordingly, there’s a funny story waiting to be written almost each and every day. My older son, though, is different. Maybe because he’s older. Maybe because as he enters his tween years he’s quieter. Maybe because I allow myself to be distracted by the antics of my young son so often that I don’t tap into my older son’s more subtle approach to life. Maybe because this older son, the boy who made me a mother, is a little too much like me and watching him too closely would be like watching myself and sometimes that reflection is just a little too clear to bear.

While I often marvel at my young son and how it is his spirit came through me into a life we all now cherish, it is my older son I know instinctively. There is no wonder about from where he came or why he came to me. I know him, as I’m sure down to my bones I’ve known him forever. He’s funny and kind and loving and sensitive and smart and gorgeous and sweet. In short, he’s my guy.

When he was a baby his dad started graduate school and for the years following he and I really were the two amigos. My husband was always a fully present father to our son, but the day-to-day goings on of life, especially on the weekends, were really between my son and me. He adored me. His sweet little self in his navy blue sweat pants and his long sleeve onesie. His multicolored socks that had foot treads even though he didn’t walk until well past 18 months. His flailing boy parts that always managed to pee just as I took off his diaper. His soft belly that could never quite get full no matter how much milk I produced and was never quite settled no matter how often I rubbed it. His sensitive system that required a strict schedule, likely picking up on my energy that required the same. He and I were in sync and inseparable.

I look back on those early years and think about the hours I spent on the floor of his room, reading and playing and almost falling asleep when he wouldn’t stop reading and playing. The hours we spent together before bed, the way the floor creaked ever so slightly as the music played—Baby Mine, Blackbird, Over the Rainbow—and we rocked together.

I can still feel him all warm and snuggly in his fuzzy foot pajamas. I can still see his wafts of curly blond hair and giant blue eyes struggling to stay open as he fought in vain to keep sleep away. I made patchwork curtains when I was on maternity leave for this soft yellow room his dad painted when we found out I was pregnant. The sheets in his honey-colored crib were a pastel blue plaid and his favorite sleeping companion was a half-stuffed floppy grey and white kitty. Our two cats—the real ones, not the half-stuffed floppy kind–always wanted to sleep by him because he was so warm. I wonder now if they also saw themselves as my son’s protectors, guardians of my greatest gift.

When my son woke in the mornings it was with great delight. He’d laugh and roll around, banging the sides of the crib with his giant head, kicking the slats the way he used to kick me when he was in my belly, usually getting hiccups from the excitement just as he did in utero as well. Later he’d stand, hold the rail, and jump as hard as he could, screeching in joy. I knew when I heard him that it wouldn’t be long before he’d call, “Mommy!” and if I tried to eek out a few more minutes of sleep he’d call again, “Mommmmm-my!” Every time I shuffled into his room those big blue eyes would light up like the morning sky and he’d jump harder and faster as if he’d fly to me if he could only grow some wings.

Soon enough he was crawling, pounding around on the wood floors of our tiny house like a jackhammer—just as loud and just as fast—as if there was nothing more important in the world than hugging our cat or getting his soccer ball. The noise would change from a “bang-bang-bang” to a “slap-slap-slap” as he crossed the threshold from the wood floors of the dining room into the tile of the kitchen. There he’d find the one cabinet not locked and pull out all the metal bowls to clang and stack.

It wouldn’t be long before he was trying to build things like Bob the Builder. We moved to a bigger house just about the time he moved on to the Wiggles. When I was pregnant with his younger brother, trying desperately to both stay awake and not throw up every day after work, his favorite was Dora the Explorer. Later came her cousin Diego. His dad and I chose Bob and the Wiggles and Dora and Digeo to help our son navigate his preschool terrain and, as much as I dreaded them then, I almost long for them now.

As the years pass my melancholy deepens, especially as I look back to the time when my son’s brother was born and can see more clearly how something significantly shifted as a result. He sensed, I think, that his spot was taken. Innately understanding the social cues and familial expectations that he love this new brother, he was conflicted. How could he love someone who took his place?

Of course his place was never taken, nor will it ever be, but at three-years-old the concept of unconditional and undying love is not something easily understood. His dad was soon done with  school and  available on weekends to play; between that and this new creature attached to my body more often than not, my son naturally gravitated to his dad. Our new house was on a cul-de-sac and he couldn’t get enough of playing outside, so off he and his dad would go, just as it should have been.

I didn’t mourn our shift in family dynamics then. I had a beautiful new baby and was so grateful to have the opportunity to give my child a sibling, something I didn’t have but wanted desperately. Now, though, I can’t help but wax nostalgic. My son is so tall now, with his black and red checkered Vans and his long hairy legs and his unkept hair—his childhood is giving way to young adulthood. I’m so grateful for this. I’m so proud of this. And I’m so pained by this.

My son is growing into the finest of young men. He’s kind and thoughtful, he’s sweet and funny, he’s sensitive and smart and gorgeous. He’s the guy who made me a mother. The guy I’ve known forever and will love forever.

This guy. He’s my guy.

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Traveling Tuesdays Part VI: No Cameras Allowed

Today we went to the beautiful d’Orsay Musee. On this, our last day of our European adventure, 23 days of foreign country madness with all of its high highs and low lows, we finally figured out the best way to start the day.

Get there before it opens.

And we learned that on accident, frankly, because I thought it opened at 9am and we were there right at 9am. Turns out, it opened at 9:30. This allowed me to get in line and the kids to run their fool heads off. Turns out, that’s the kind of thing that makes everyone happy.

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(Should you be curious about my children’s personalities, you can find them pretty much summed up in this picture.)

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(To the untrained eye I may not look happy, but the fact that you see no sweat dripping from my brow nor complaining child hanging from my bag–just me leaning on a pole considering the beautiful breakfast I had just eaten and the beautiful art that awaited me inside–that’s glory right there, baby.)

Once inside we found the architecture remenicent of the Grand Central Station, gorgeous tall domed ceilings with a huge clock on either side.

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Immediately we started taking pictures. Until we couldn’t.

“Excusez Moi, Madame. La caméra, non, si vous plait.” the docent said, shaking her finger and smiling gently.

No camera? What the hell?!

(Pause.)

Really, Lusiani? Have you learned nothing in the last three weeks? We’re talking about a camera, not your life’s bread. Dial in the perspective.

(Reset.)

It must be because they can’t control who uses a flash and who doesn’t, and I’m guessing that could legitimately damage the art over time. We have one of those big cameras with far too many settings for a lay photographer and I found myself breaking the rules all over the Louvre because I couldn’t get the flash to not pop up.

Annoyed, I was at least satisfied with this explanation of why I couldn’t take photos of my favorite paintings and sculptures in this most magnificent space. Wandering through the bottom floor (not the first floor, mind you, because that is up one level; we are on floor zero at this point), many docents were reminding tourists, mostly Americans, that photos were not allowed. Our kind-eyed rule enforcer was not so kind-eyed as she had to repeat herself several times to people who said they understood and didn’t (or, more likely, said they understood and chose to break the rules anyway).

Once up on the second floor (floor one must have been storage or some other set of rooms not open to the public, another reminder that maps in this country are very misleading to the average American) I began to feel the difference between traveling through the Louvre with a camera and d’Orsay without one. I was seeing more but more importantly I was feeling more. I found myself more moved by the art as I viewed it through my own eyes and not through the viewfinder of my camera.

Further, I spent more time with each piece of art instead of fumbling with the camera to turn it on, focus it, take the photo, put it back, realize how far my guys had advanced and then hurry up to catch them. We strolled leisurely-ish together, stopping to admire things like the thickness of the paint on a canvas (Starry Night Over the Rhone by Van Gogh? WHOLE NEW APPRECIATION) or the way a sculptor had captured the energy of the man in addition to his likeness (I will never again hear Beethoven’s music in the same way after seeing that wild-haired bust).

The flash may be the logistical reason cameras weren’t allowed, but the experience was the artistic reason.

Sorry, my kind-eyed docent friend. Now I know, and now I understand. I had spent much of the last 23 days behind the lens of a camera. Today I didn’t. D’Orsay gave me perhaps the best gift of the whole trip.

Still, one picture had to be taken. On this, our last day in Paris, it just had to be taken.

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Traveling Tuesdays Part V: Mind the Gap

(Author’s Note: I’ve since rediscovered where I got the idea for “Mind the Gap.” It’s from Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly, Chapter 5. If you don’t yet have that book, I highly recommend it!)

Paris and Rome are very different places. Both cool in their own way, both fashionable in their own way, both beautiful in their own way, both have kind people who, when they see you in need will come to your aid with their culture’s version of kindness which, while different, is both kind in its own way.

Notice in the repeating phrase “in their own way.” That’s because, while they are similar, they are, in fact, *very* different places.

After ten days in Rome living in the neighborhoods and eating in the restaurants and delighting in the gelaterias of locals, were were feeling pretty Roman. Imagine our surprise when our four American-Roman selves landed in Paris. No coffee on the bus? No old women on the metro? No chain smoking men whistling at me as I go up the stairs? What the hell is going on here?

Another big difference? This city is crazy clean. And by crazy clean I mean, crazy clean. There is no complaint here for gone are the polluted skies and graffiti and trash in the gutters. Everything sparkles like new, even when it’s hundreds of years old. It’s absolutely beautiful. But different.

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The metro system is also so different; in fact it took us several days to figure out how to navigate it. We were told Paris has the best metro system in the world but for those few days it just felt like the most confusing one.

And then one day I started to feel like I was getting a handle on it. We had walked for two hours–two hours–the night before because we couldn’t figure the transportation situation in relation to the construction going on at several train stations where we could have transferred.  As you can imagine, my sons just about lost their minds on that two-hour walk, especially considering it occurred after walking all day in Versailles.

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Here’s one clear similarity: crowded and hot. No difference there. July in Paris is just like July in Rome with regard to those two little gems.

“What the heck, Dad?” is how our two-hour walk began, but I couldn’t let Craig take the fall. There was construction everywhere and our geographical challenge, this time, was a mutually created problem. As we began the trek home that we thought would be only about a half hour–maps in Paris, different–soon enough we separated into our usual walking pattern. Craig and Jackson head down and leading the charge up front while Tommy and I took in the sights and entertained ourselves in the back.

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After about an hour, we started go get punchy.

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“Too legit, too legit to quit! Bau, bau!” I was lead singer. This doesn’t happen very often in my family so I was making the most of it. Soon enough, Tommy cut in on my action.

“Too legit, bau, too legit to quit! Bau, bau, ba, ba, bau!”

“Tommy, I’ve told you three times, that’s not how it goes.”

“Well, maybe that’s how it should go,” he responded. “Let’s call MC Hammer when we get home and suggest it. Hey, wait, did his mom name him ‘MC?'”

“I don’t know. What do you think?”

“I think that’s AWESOME! I’m Hammer MC Hammer, go Hammer, MC Hammer! Too legit, bau, too legit to quit! Bau, bau, ba, ba, bau!”

It went on like that another hour. Craig and Jackson tried to be annoyed, but they couldn’t because our way of getting through this torture was far more fun than theirs. About a half hour into our show they laughed but soon after got very quiet. We tried to mind our manners, but we just ended up laughing even louder which irritated them to no end. The did manage to keep their cool, though, and when we finally got back to the apartment they went straight to bed without dinner. MC Tommy and I, exhausted and blistered, went back out to get a burger.

The food. Let’s pause for a second about the food. With the exception of the burgers, the food was not so great. Not terrible, but not great. Not even in its own way.

At any rate, this traumatic/entertaining two-hour walk stiffened my spine and the next morning I set out to make the metro work for us. No more is it going to take down my family. I OWN this metro.

Turns out, attitude is everything. We rode that thing like pros from then forward.

Once the stress loosened it’s grip I noticed something new. Every time we get to a stop on the metro a recorded voice asks me to mind the gap. She’s speaking of the space between where I step off the train and where I step on to the platform. I heard her today and felt strongly that I had heard that phrase before, at least I thought I had. I searched Google when I got back to our apartment because I didn’t want to write something that has already been said.

After 3 pages of searching I came up with nothing familiar so I write with this crystal clear notion that may or may not be original: Mind the Gap.

To me (or maybe to this other person) (or maybe that other person is me and it’s one of many things I intended to write about but promptly forgot) “Mind the Gap” applies to everything in life because it’s about being aware.

Mind the Gap between cultures. Recognize that my version of what’s real is not everyone’s and that, in fact, it’s a construct made up by the people who came before me and then was followed by me as gospel. When in someone else’s home follow their rules; when others are in my home, remember what it feels like to be in theirs and cut them some slack. 90%(ish) of frustration is based in one’s own perception.

Mind that Gap.

Mind the Gap between what it means to be 8 and 11 year old boys and what it means to be their parent. Don’t get so caught up in shoulds. Hold a line but do so in a way that teaches, not preaches. That shares, not controls. Keep clear about how my voice is becoming their inner voice and be even more clear just what exactly I want them to grow up telling themselves. Remember there are many gaps between them and me–in age, in gender, in individual personas-–and that they are to become a grown up version of themselves one day, not a grown up version of me.

Mind the Gap.

Mind the Gap between my husband in myself. We are not one fluid being, but the fluidity between two individuals. Remember I have a dam at my disposal that can come up to stop the flow of his frustration before it enters my heart and he can do the same. The gap is a gift in that regard, use it. Just remember to hang on the bridge where the fluidity flows more than the shore where it stops lest I forget that bridge exists.

Mind the Gap.

Mind the Gap between discomfort and joy to be sure one does not invade the other too often. Discomfort has it’s place, but it’s not a place that has to be tenated very long because whenever I choose to leave it there is always a gap over which I can walk back into joy. The inbetween is indifference and never a place I’d like to roam. Or fall.

Mind the Gap.

Mind the Gap between myself and my extended family and friends. It’s good to be on my side of the gap alone to recharge and refuel, but if the work I am doing has me there all the time, take that as a sign to change the work, not avoid crossing the gap. Family and friends remind me where I come from and who I am; they need to be visited often lest I forget who I am and from where I came.

Mind the Gap.

Mind the Gap between work and self. Work is wonderful but without a gap between the work and the heart, even when the work is of the heart, perhaps especially when the work is of the heart, everything else suffers. Remember why I do what I do but don’t let it define me to the point I can do nothing else. Involve myself in work that refuels and recharges, not work that I have to run from to find the refueling and recharging station.

Mind the Gap.

Mind the Gap between anxiety and Truth. This is a place where imbalance is healthy and spending more time on one side than the other is the right thing to do. Anxiety has ruled me most of my life and, while it’s protected and served me in many wonderful ways, the time for it is over. Visiting its side is inevitable because it’s part of who I am, but staying there is a choice I will actively choose against. Staying in Truth is where God is and where I want to be.

Mind the Gap.

Mind the Gap means living mindfully, honestly, making active choices and being aware of the consequences. I must be aware of what lies on both sides as well as the space in between. In all things and in all ways.

Mind the Gap.

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Traveling Tuesday Part IV: Strangers and the Mediterranean Sea

We actually made it to the Mediterranean?!

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Let me return to the beginning of the day. When I get excited, sometimes I get ahead of myself.

Today we decided to hit the tourist spots early, both for the sake of avoiding the heat and the crowds. While neither was possible, we certainly were in better spirits for starting at least ahead of each. That and Rick Steves saved our ever-loving asses with his advice on how best to tackle the Coliseum, both in regard to where to get the tickets as well as how to navigate the Palatine, Forum, and the Coliseum itself. So huge, this place!

And the fact they are still excavating cells and tunnels and other evidence of all-terrible-reasons-to-break-the-law in Ancient Rome is just amazing to me, especially because the history is as intense as it is hypocritical (Really, guys, mounting a huge cross in the place that witnessed the gruesome death of thousands of lives, human and animal alike? Is that what Jesus would do?).

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I return to the size of things again, just because it blows my mind. No motor driven tools–only thousands of men using things like levers and planes and chisels–and they were able to erect not only masterpieces of doom but also things like an arc ten stories tall to honor the legality of Christianity. Boggles. The. Mind.

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After our trip to Ancient Rome we returned to the apartment for lunch and a nap before going out to meet Lyena’s sister, Tatiana, who I swear was sent straight from Heaven. I know this because she welcomed us like we’d known each other for years, she provided us an opportunity I had literally prayed for without her even knowing that was my wish, and she challenged my fears in a way only the divine can do.

Too fast again. I’ll momentarily take this further back for the sake of clarity. The one aspect I couldn’t reconcile in my non-planning form of planning this trip (something new I was trying, a challenge at best) was the fact I wasn’t going to get to the coast of Italy. Something called me there so seriously but I couldn’t see how to get there in any reasonable way. In the theme of my non-planning, planning, I prayed on it and let it go.

So there I am in my bedroom packing for this crazy trip at 10pm with a car coming for us at 4:30am the next morning, when I get a message from Lyena. How did she not know we were going to Rome? She has an awesome sister in Rome! I don’t know how she didn’t know, maybe because my husband had the subject on public lockdown for fear our house would be robbed while we were gone for a month, and then the moment he released that fear I blurted all over town (and Facebook).

I love Lyena, but I don’t love meeting the family of strangers, even awesome sisters like hers. I didn’t even work to find my own family here in Rome because I’m just not the kind of girl who is into meeting people in intimate settings with no escape route (no common language + no car of my own + strangers at a dining room table = a nightmare in my racing mind and heart). It’s the anxiety and introvert combo speaking, I get it. Still.

But, my husband (Mr. Mayor, as we like to call him) is all about strangers. He says he’s not a dog person, but I swear, with the exception of the tail wagging, he bears a great likeness to our Mario when he even talks to people for the first time. Case in point: Lyena’s awesome sister.

Three days into Rome I had lost my mind–the heat, it makes a person crazy!–and sent Tatiana a message that we were here. Within the hour she called and next thing I know she and Craig are talking merrily on the phone, making plans for the next day to go to the beach and then to her house for dinner afterwards.

Wait, what? I was sending a courtesy email because I told my friend I would. I wasn’t serious about making plans, much less plans that involved going to a stranger’s house! Why did I let him answer that damned phone?

By that time we were in deep, though, so I had no choice but to be gracious (My desire for Grace overrides my desire to hide in my anxiety, so much so that I had the word tattooed on my arm on my fortieth birthday. No, I’m not kidding.). That said, I laid into Craig when he hung up the phone.

“What the hell are you doing?” I cried, literally crying, “You know I hate to meet strangers, and you have us going to the beach and to her house? Have you lost your mind?”

“Just what beach do you think we’re going to?”

Hmm. When I heard the word “beach” it didn’t ring an angel’s bell for me. I say the “beach” and I’m talking about a sand strip about a mile long that runs between the San Francisco Bay and my town.

Not so for Tatiana, however. Come to realize, when she says the “beach,” she means the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Craig knew I’d hate going, but he also knew how much I wanted to get to the Mediterranean. Anxiety out, elation in.

“Oh My God!” Now I’m the person with the proverbial wagging tail. And he is smug because he knows he’s got me, strangers or no strangers. What a pain in the ass this guy is.

So here we are, back in current time, rested after our nap, picked up by the kind and gracious Tatiana at a train station not remotely close to her house, after a lovely car ride taking in the sights of the city of Rome way outside the city of Rome, sitting on a lounge chair watching my children frolic in the Mediterranean Sea. The sand is warm, fine, and soft. The water is blue and warm and beautiful.

The place she took us had an east coast style situation where we (she) rented a little section of beach with chairs and an umbrella so we could rest and take it all in.

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 And every few minutes I just kept thinking, We’re here! We’re here!

“Mom!” Tommy yells, running up from the water, “Did you know we can’t drown here because the salt content is so high?” I raised my eyebrows at this prospect and he ran back toward the water, apparently just wanting to reassure me that there was no need to watch him because not only was this fun, it was safe as can be. I was not reassured, but amused, and happy Craig was out closer to the water keeping a close eye on our children in the impossible-to-drown-in water.

I digress for a moment to note that everything, in fact, does happen as it should. My non-planning form of planning needed an outlet for all my nervous energy so instead of planning the trip, I scoured travel blogs about what to pack. One site suggested a blow up beach ball for people who have low back trouble because it packs easily and you can blow it up to the size that works for you. Of course Craig thought I was ridiculous but look what happened. We ended up at the Mediterranean Sea and the kids had a ball to play with!

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A sign if there ever was one that God works with crazy, not against it.

Icing on the proverbial cake was the visit to Tatiana’s home for dinner after this glorious trip to the sea. Her husband just as kind as she, a younger version of my grandfathers in voice, look, and their affinity for the way children bring joy into a home. Her lovely house has a gorgeous view off the lush back yard where we ate a simple and exceptionally delicious meal, drank fantastic wine, and had a delightful time. With strangers.

To get to the sea, I had to go through strangers.

Both were varying degrees better than I expected.

Traveling Tuesdays Part III: Finally a Holy (and Happy) Day

We didn’t sleep well last night, which actually lead to a bit of sweetness between my eldest boy and me. Tom was playing musical beds following Craig around last night and at some point my bed ended up empty when Jackson wandered in not being able so sleep himself. It seems to be the 230am burden at this point, each of us have been up in varying combinations at this hour every night. Jackson and I decided to read for an hour, during which Craig intended to come back into bed but found his spot taken. We all had a giggle and he went back to the kids’ room and Jackson and I back to our ipads. Thankfully we were able to go back to sleep at some point, but no one woke before 10am.

We started our day with a positive attitude, aided in part by this breakfast at a local bar. (“Bar,” is to Italians as “coffee shop” is to Americans. I’m pretty sure I like their version better.)

IMG_0020After a very trying day yesterday we decided to keep things very simple today: Saint Peter’s, our favorite pizza for lunch, a stop off at the Roma soccer store, and then back home–all of us getting one thing we wanted, including getting out of the heat and inevitable rainstorm before the late afternoon.

Saint Peter’s was the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen constructed by humans. Awe inspiring, truly. It felt holy the moment I stepped into the square (which is actually more of a circle). The line was in the shade and moved quickly, we were in within fifteen minutes and, although crowded, it was nothing–NOTHING–like  the vatican yesterday. For me, the biggest difference was that at Saint Peter’s there was room to move and be inspired, even room to pray which I did with great gratitude. I brought my journal with me that had a photo copy of Rick Steves’ walking tour through the basilica and I learned and saw and shared with my family really interesting things. When Tommy wasn’t stressing about how high the ceilings were, a new fear of heights has emerged on this trip, even he was taken by the beauty of this place, including the gold inlay of the latin words that joined the walls of mortals and the ceilings of angels.

The one thing I wanted to see was the Pieta, Michelangelo’s masterpiece depicting Mary holding her dying son. When I was confirmed my grandparents gave me a replica from their trip to Rome many decades prior, Papa’s handwriting on the bottom now faint with age. Even before I had sons of my own this sculpture spoke to me of the deep and un-fillable hole that I imagine comes with the loss of a child. To me, knowing that loss was coming and choosing to mother him anyway…that is the greatest sacrifice I can ever imagine. It moves me to no end and the original statue did the same. I sat many minutes in quiet reflection and gratitude for what it really means to be entrusted with the life of a child and the great call God puts in the hearts of parents to care for that gift.

Having the opportunity for some quiet that day reminded me that, like it or not, I am an introvert and we are a people who need quiet to find peace and peace to find Grace. We took this family photo outside when we were done and I think it really captures how happy we all were today. Maybe the old adage, “If Mama’s happy, everybody’s happy,” has some truth to it.

IMG_7042As it turns out, my internal shift was not the only epiphany of the day. It was on the way to the trattoria that I noticed something remarkable: my external self matched the external selves of those who call this city home. Everywhere I looked were big noses. Mine was no longer the biggest of the bunch, either, and that’s something to note in and of itself. Like me, men and women had bountiful, big hair, none of it smooth and silky, none of it tamed and controlled. My propensity for dramatic displays of affection or frustration were child’s play compared to the people of this city and I marveled at how, for maybe the first time, I was more the same on the outside than different.

I know it to be true by stories and records, but was it possible that my heart also recognizes this as the place of my biological origin? As city of my people? As I glanced across the street considering this very question, my answer revealed itself. Even my middle name, pronounced the way my mom says it, not the way most people assume, belongs here.

IMG_7051 We stopped at a few tourist shops, got some gelato once back in the neighborhood, and then hit the market for a few dinner items. The walk was lovely, in part because the clouds had moved in to cool things off but it had not yet rained. Also because we weren’t lost. Mostly, however, because my family was in that sweet spot of a place where all was well.

Our last stop was this tiny shop dedicated to one of Italy’s soccer teams, AS Roma. We have been staying out of the center of Rome, in a neighborhood of locals where tourists are uncommon. Accordingly, this shop was not the typical tourist spot, but rather a place young men would gather around a tiny TV set to watch their team play not because they don’t have a bigger or better TV at home, but because here they’d be together as AS Roma family.

I say all this because, as it turns out, Romans take their soccer *very* seriously. This man in his late twenties was stuffed in this tiny shop overflowing in maroon and orange, and looked like the happiest person I’d ever seen. His shop was his great source of pride and to have people in to shop was like having people into his home. Gracious and kind, excited at the prospect of an American boy taking home a Roma jersey in celebration of his city and his team, this was one happy and contented man.

We headed home to load up photos, chat with friends on Facebook, and make another humble dinner of cheese, salami, prosciutto, bread, salad, and fresh cherries for dessert.

2013-07-06 18.18In it’s purest sense, the day was delightful.