When in Rome…
When in Rome…
“Mom! Please, relax. I’ve got it covered. It’s nasty here, sure, but I know how to clean and the rest of us are making the best of it. Please don’t worry mom. When in Rome, dot dot dot.”
Each time my daughter shared another adventure or misadventure on her dream journey, she’d end it with, “When in Rome, dot dot dot.” I thought I’d go nuts hearing that one more time but there it was each time we spoke over the phone. I could have handled it better if she had said, “When God gives you lemons,you make lemonade.” Not that that particular quote wouldn’t have gotten to me either but at least it came from my country and well, I knew what it meant. “When in Rome…dot dot dot.” Had too many unknown meanings for me.
I tried many times to keep a stiff upper lip and avoided telling her what I would do in her situation because I realized that this trip wasn’t just about her living her dream, this trip was about growth, experience and challenges. And she was facing each of these aspects in her life with fire, determination and lust. Each day posed a new experience. Each night was met with a sense of accomplishment. I missed her dearly but I embraced her in my heart with each cell phone conversation. Verizon Wireless is a very happy company this month.
After I arrived to her apartment and saw for myself what conditions she was living in, all I could do was hug her. What I really wanted to do was find the professor who allowed this to happen after he had given me his word that he would take care of this situation (Yes, I called him. It’s my right. My baby, my money, my choice) and ring his neck. I visualized him having to sleep in the bedroom that she slept in every night with the balcony door opened to let the hot musty air come in and keep him from having a good nights sleep while slapping away the huge bugs that would fly into the room, and rest their weary sappy filled bodies on his face for the evening. I didn’t stop there. I actually envisioned him buying groceries with money he saved for almost a year, only to wake up the next day, starving, ready to sink his teeth into a hot buttery, flaky croissant and find that the bugs had gotten to it before he could get a chance to toast it, not leaving him a crumb. I had many other visions like this, all to keep me from going insane, which if you think about it carefully, having these visions was insane in itself. My daughter was finally living her dream of studying in Italy and this man had not bothered to secure her temporary quarters as he promised. I wanted to find that man and rip him a new one. But what would have been the point? She was there for one more week and my words would have been a waste of time. I hugged her nonetheless because after seeing those conditions, I knew she had toughed it out. I was proud of my daughter. I saw how she handled the situation and made the best of it. I hate to admit because to do so means I have to accept that she doesn’t need me as much but when I saw how she and her roommates fixed up the place I knew she was all grown up. She did this all without a word from me. But the truth of the matter was that all I had taught her since she was old enough to remember came to serve her well during her stay and that’s all a parent ever hopes for. You give them lessons, you give them tools, and you give them wings. It’s up to them to past the test, build those dreams and fly. I patted myself on the back, I done good.
My first day there was spent visiting the places that she frequented on a daily basis. Every where I went, I was greeted with the, “Oh so theeese eees juuu mama. Molto bene.” Then they would look at me and say, “Juuu have Bella dowta. I taka good carea of her whilea she wasa here waiting for juuu to come.” I wanted to get on my knees and hug these people to show how grateful I was that even though her apartment was a hell hole, they made her stay bearable. But I knew that it would embarrass my daughter and so I remained calm, cool and collected, shook their hands numerous times and smiled to my hearts content that even across the miles, some one was watching my baby girl. Yes, she’s 21 and when she’s 51, if I’m still alive, she’ll still be my baby girl.
Before she headed to class she took us to a restaurant to have some lunch and I was amazed at how she was able to handle the waiter in her clearly spoken Italian language. I beamed with pride. I got my money’s worth. While she was in school that first day, I ventured out. Her father and I decided we’d attempt to take a cab back to our hotel and check out the area there. That was quite an experience. If you spoke to them in English, you’d be greeted with a wrinkled look and something that looked like a smile but I got the feeling they weren’t too thrilled with us being in their country. That or they were constipated. Either way, it wasn’t a pretty sight. One driver asked us, “Whera juua frrom?” I said, “New York.” He said this time a little more frustrated, “Hera? I no capich New what?” Finally I said, “America, Estados Unidos.” To which he then said in a laughing hyena tone, “AHAHAHA, no good in futbol.” He was referring to the World Soccer Cup games being played in Germany. Then he drove away. I decided right then and there if I had to put up with this there was only two ways of handling it. I noticed that if you spoke Spanish, they assumed you were from Spain, and they treated you a bit nicer. I could do that or…..
If you spoke with a British accent, they were even nicer to you. But I felt foolish doing that because I couldn’t keep a straight face each time my husband or daughter would look at me, but it got us better service so they soon learned to go with the flow. It was either speak with an accent, speak in Spanish or fight to be accepted in their country when it was obvious that they did not like Americano’s. So we decided….to make Lemonade or dot dot dot our way through this beautiful country.
When in Rome… dot dot dot
Copyright © 2006 by Sonia AgronWord count 1,155