Picture – “The Bookstore of Travels” or “The Traveled Bookstore”
I relate so much with Audrey Hepburn. I, too, am a princess striving to live an incognito life in the beautiful city of Rome. The similarities continue, I drastically cut my hair before coming here; she did so while in Rome. She won an Oscar for the role, I’m expecting a little golden man about this time next year.
All kidding aside, will someone please explain her accent? How does “can’t” sound like “kant” and “oh!” like “eohhh”? These are the things that I’m very curious about. I might try impersonation if someone doesn’t stop me.
But really all kidding aside, “Roman Holiday” is the perfect name for the film. As Gregory Peck so persuasively states, “Live dangerously. Take the whole day.” That seems to be an attitude embodied here. Yes, people do work, but people don’t live to work. Occupations are just that, it seems. They occupy a period of time, they don’t define the person. And this leads to a more casual lifestyle – take for example the fact that in two weeks of class I have had two canceled (more cancellations than during my entire last semester). People must work here, they have to, but at any hour of the day I see business-aged men strolling together, couples kissing on the streets, and women in their best clothes out shopping. Any day of the week.
Yes, it’s a big city. Yes, not everyone can be in a rush at all the same times. But, that is what is amazing here. No one really ever seems to be – if you don’t count the drivers, who are always in a rush. Rome is fantastic in that it is big but feels so small. It’s a huge metropolis, but I could swear it’s a neighborhood. People know each other, they stop and chat. The little streets foster the sense, and the fact that Rome must interact with itself. People still talk to people here. They don’t dash through drive-thrus, they don’t use the automatic checkout, they don’t pass through automatic gates. There is still the person on the other side of the counter and the man who looks at my ID to let me into school. This is a no-card-swipe society. There still exists the tactile and the personal, and this is what makes Rome feel relatable and alive.
Audrey wants to eat gelato, she wants to sit at a cafe, she wants to walk in the rain. (I walked in the rain today, not so romantic, Hep.) In short, she wants to be Roman. She wants to live the holiday. The “holiday” that extends into a lifestyle, that becomes the norm.
The take-a-whole-day theory abounds here. Here, the Italians do live dangerously in that they live. We Americans could learn a lesson. There is something about sinking in here, planting feet, allowing sensations the due time to occur. Julia Child would be happy with the binge.
Last week, my favorite wristwatch stopped immediately after I had glanced down to look at it. Accidentalism. After audibly gasping in class and interpreting this for a moment as the actual End Times – I mean, what are the chances?! – I took another metaphorical approach to the event. Rome has simply stopped the time that was. It’s a new rhythm, a new pace, a new metronome to live by. Dragging past conceptions of time into this reality simply won’t suffice. Dive into the new period, Rome says.
Also, walking the streets yesterday, Katie and I saw the same two French guys that we had sauntered through Galleria Borghese with the previous day. Just on a random street in Rome. Accidentalism. Again, someone tally the chances of such an event. We both immediately thought that we were maybe supposed to fall in love with them and laugh about the time we all danced to the audio-guided steps through the Borghese art. Alas, I doubt that happens.
Here’s my ill-plotted point: Rome specializes in slowness, in thoughtfulness, and chance. While I long past conquered the jet-lag, I am now beginning to really adopt the time change, the Roman Holiday rhythm. With a naked wrist, I’m actively searching for a new watch. I want to count the minutes with the Romans