I’m happy to say that we have successfully evacuated Rome. The packing up went well, we managed to ship a total of four boxes and stuff the rest of our lives into four suitcases— in total, our combined existence weighed 152 kg, our housing deposit was returned, albeit minus 300€ for bills, and I received a very late tessera sanitaria, so now I’m covered for emergencies until July 2015. Hooray!
While I’m happy— no, ecstatic— to finally be away from Rome, there are these little heartaches that remind me that the year wasn’t all bad at all.
I can be content without the big glitzy things about the city that people generally ‘oooh’ over, it’s the other things that make me just the tiniest bit sad that I’m gone. Little things that I want to remember over and above the terrible PTSD-inducing memories of Italy. In no particular order:
- Our portiera Anna and the way she took such good care of us, and always brought us our mail and packages even though we had no ‘interno’ number (our apartment was walled up to divide it into two, so we technically have the same mailing address as our ‘neighbor’)
- All the nice people in our apartment building— the kind grey-haired smoker lady, the pit-bull owners, the I-am-subscribed-to-all-the-magazines nonna who lives on our floor, everyone in the basement (and there are a lot of them)— all of whom would never let a day go by without a “buongiorno!” or a “buona sera!”
- The nice elderly check out man at our grocery, Tiger (name of grocery, not of man), who was the slowest bagger I have ever seen in my life, but was always so happy to see us
- The guards at LUISS who just know me as ‘Dy’ and are very happy when I’m the one who logs in for the key, as my cognome is the shortest ever to write
- The owners of the La Balestra restaurant, who know us now and often hand us random tidbits from the kitchen and always round down the final bill
- Abby, who has helped us so much throughout our stay in Rome (up to the very end, with shipping boxes), and ended up as one of my best friends in Europe
- Roberta, who has translated for us from the very first moment she met us at LUISS, and helped with the crazy, crazy bureaucracy
- Marida, who is single-handedly the friendliest person from Napoli I could ever hope to meet
- Antonella, Desire, and everyone else in the LUISS PhD program— may we receive more guidance on our program as the year progresses
- Being able to walk around our neighborhood at night and on the weekends when there are absolutely no people and it’s nice and quiet
- Being able to drink water out of any of the little fontanelle all around Rome (within reason, some of them being stuffed with trash)
- Being able to go out for gelato at any time of the day or night, and living so near our favourite gelateria (and now chocolaterie) the Gelateria Oxilia
- Having been part of the opening and great success of Grue’, the new bakery that set up shop along Viale Regina Margherita that sells the most delicious of macarons
- The Philippine Embassy – Rome staff, who made me feel welcome (and protected) from my very first days in the city, and specially Aubrey who is absolutely lovely
- The Filipino couple who owns the little lutong bahay right across the embassy, as well as the staff of the Kabayan store right beside it, for always taking care of me— from the very beginning, they called us a cab on our first visit when we had no ATAC cards and no Italian SIMs and no idea how to get home— to always throwing in an extra kakanin or leche flan when I would eat there or get takeaway
- I also greatly miss Jasmin and Miko, fellow GEM PhD students, but I’m seeing them in less than a month’s time, so they don’t really count
- Last but not least, I’ll miss the ease of finding ‘date places’ that they boy and I can go to, from dinner at a nearby restaurant to a day trip to Pompeii to any of the vast number of parks around the city
Moving out is always a terribly difficult thing. I gave every single piece of furniture and every single wall in our apartment a hug before I left, like I do with all the places I leave that I considered ‘home’— it wasn’t the little apartment’s fault that a lot of bad experiences were had in Rome. I’m grateful to the boy as well, as he had the harder task of leaving the keys on the table and giving our apartment door one final close. I don’t think my heart could have taken it— after all, I asked to keep my key card to my apartment in Australia (even though it was deactivated the moment I left).
With all that’s said and done, I’m sad about leaving the people and the little place we called our home, but I’m so incredibly happy to be away. Here’s to hopefully-gentler adventures in a new land!