So. Day four in Italy, we vacated the AirBnb in the early morning and sojourned down to the Vatican on Sunday morning. Yes, I know what you’re thinking … WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? ON A SUNDAY?? And I would normally say, YOU’RE RIGHT, I KNOW. But that was just the way the cookie crumbled this time round. And in hindsight, I can say, WELL SUCKS TO SUCK CUZ GUESS WHAT. WE SAW THE POPE.
Yes, my friends, we were in the midst of Vatican City’s mini-security check when we heard a familiar lilting voice over the sound system. I looked to Emily, then looked to Sarah, the three of us wide-eyed. Some Italians around us were like, “Il Papa!” then a woman yelled to the security guards, “Andiamo, andiamo! il Papa sta parlando!” (Let’s go, let’s go! The Pope is speaking!)
Finally, we made our way through and we saw his charming face on a huge TV screen they’d set up in the square and his tiny figure in the window. It was three weeks before Easter weekend, so he was delivering a blessing in that spirit … given my Italian-in-training and his mumbly speech, I could only piece together something about all of us having burdens, but we can surrender them to the Lord by loving and believing. What a guy. As I mentioned in Part 2, I was raised Catholic, so I have a lot to say about these kinds of things, but not about him. He is just what the Catholic Church needs to bring it first into the twentieth-century and then the twenty-first.
He delivered individual blessings to the many countries that were in attendance, each giving a hearty cheer, some complete with self-congratulatory flags that I personally found adorable. Then, he said his final farewells, gave his lovely wave and disappeared into the shadows of his room. How about them apples.
Fleet of foot, given our unexpected celestial promotion, we ventured into St. Peter’s Basilica.
Seeing the Pietà always reminds me how much I eventually want to be a mother. In case you haven’t figure out from my writings thus far, I’ve always had a sensitivity for mother-child relationships, given my relationship with my amazing mother and father. If I feel like I need to cry about something, but my mind won’t allow me to, I’ll crack the ice by watching Baby Mine from ‘Dumbo’ and the waterworks, without exception, will flow. There are times when I fret about how I will possibly be able to do for my child what my parents did for me: give the perfect balance of love and tough-love. Will I screw them up? Will they hate me even though I will love them beyond all measure?
And okay. I know you’re thinking … she’s looking at a statue of a mother with her dead child and that gives her the warm and fuzzies about maybe being a mother some day? Well. Yes. It’s the hopelessness in her eyes, the depth of sorrow and so, the depth of love in her expression. It’s profound. I would say I feel things deeply, yet—from what I see in the sculpture—I haven’t even scratched the surface of feeling what a mother feels for her child.
Now, as both a quasi-Catholic and theater person, symbolism is not lost on me. Therefore, as I walked away from the Pietà and felt an all too familiar ache in my abdomen, I literally stopped dead in my tracks, a blank expression on my face. Really?
Yes, despite my many attempts to anticipate and quell the pain, my body’s temper tantrum because nope, we are not, in fact, going to have a baby this month won out … even over the Pope’s blessing! (That’s some strength of will right there. Or the devil’s work … haven’t figured that symbolism out yet.) The rest of the day lost some focus; it went from 1080HD to 480, sometimes through spots spidering across my vision, sometimes through tears of pain. But, it was fun nonetheless.
We tried to get into the Sistine Chapel and for the second time in my life, it was closed. We then found a rather expensive pizza place (do we detect a pattern here in Rome?), then, upon my request, we walked to the Fountain of the Four Rivers and observed it with gelato in our hands. LOOK: (è tiramisu e fragola … delizioso!!)
From there, we headed straight to the airport. At the risk of beating a dead horse, but more for the sake of candor, the flight home was fresh hell. I suppose it’s an appropriately Italian tragic ending to a blissful trip. We were sat in the emergency exit row, to boot, which meant I didn’t have a window to distract my mind or to help with the nausea. At any rate, I survived without any unpleasantness for anyone else, but never was I so happy to curl up in a ball on my bed when I got home.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON ITALY: I miss it so very much. These people know how to live. They eat well, drink well, speak well, sing well. I so wish I had some Italian in me. I am also madly jealous of our good friend, Nick, who studied abroad in Rome this semester. Unfortunately, I got the timing wrong and we weren’t able to meet up with him (for which I thoroughly beat myself up), but from what he’s told me and the pictures he’s posted, it seems as heavenly as our short weekend stint was. Certainly, my Italian studies would have progressed considerably. (That being said, I do not BY ANY MEANS regret my decision to go to London.) Other than a possible career in opera, I don’t know what I could do so that I have an excuse to live in Italy some day … but whatever it is, I’ll find it and do it.