This morning I wake slowly. I take my time. Breakfast doesn’t call. Neither does lunch. I have completely had enough of a diet of wheat and sugar. Italia’s pasta-pizza-pastry merry-go-round has me bloated and vagued-out. My ankles are disappearing. I’m no-good-reason tired. Even the yoghurt is caked with sugar. Mid morning I wander out onto the street. Last night was colder, much colder, than the night before. The dark clouds have set in and it starts to rain. I walk down to a farmacia and stock up on Compeed, the Rolls Royce of blister bandaids. I wander up to the park outside the station and wait for Ben. When I spoke to him last night he was only 15kms away. That would put him at the station by midday at the latest. His phone has died so there’s nothing to do but wait on a bench by the ugliest fountain on Earth.
I saw Ben across the road and let out a cooo-ee, which was promptly echoed by the men sitting around on benches in the park. ‘What’s that!’ were his first words. He meant the fountain.
He downed pack and had a shower in the room and then it was back across the road to the station to catch a train to Roma. We’d left Ben’s computer there for a warranty repair and this was our opportunity to go get it. It was great to sit in the window and watch for familiar roads and rest-stops, retracing the way we’d come from the comfort of a carriage. I glance at the roadside width and wonder about my sanity in walking such a fine line. That’s the thing with anything at all though, isn’t it – it always looks crazy from the outside. Anything at all.
Rome was an adventure. It was raining. I was still in my socks and thongs. We jumped off the train at god knows where and discovered ourselves to be god knows where. We walked and found the fringe of civilisation and the probable direction of the computer, which we’d dropped off on a whim during our pilgrimage out of Rome on Saturday, for no better reason than we walked past an Apple shop. Aha, we decided, a bus would do. And indeed a bus came along and we trundled along in the general direction. The bus came to the end of its line and we jumped ship for another bus until we figured we’d come far enough. At least we were in the thick of peak hour traffic. We tried to flag a taxi. We tried walking until we asked directions and discovered we were heading entirely in the wrong direction. At least, at this point, the lucky person we asked printed us out a Google map, so we began to get a grip on where we were going. We ran for a bus. Ben jumped on and it closed its doors. I ran harder to the front and banged on the door. The driver let me on. Ben and I laughed with the freedom of those with no dignity to uphold. We rolled on. We got off the bus. And voila! We were right across the road from the computer.
Phew, I thought. Mission accomplished. Great, said Ben. Now let’s go get some more hard drive.
I blinked and tried to make sense of this. We were going to cross Rome in the rain through peak hour traffic to another god knows where to find a shop we didn’t even know would be open by the time we got there. Okay. And so our mission began again. Bizarrely, our quest took us down the very street where we’d been lost on our way out of Rome on Saturday. We knew where we were! I pondered this, the number of times in my life where I’d been lost and within days had to return to a place I might never have found had I not been lost there a little while before. Uncanny.
Dripping wet and hungry, we sat in the shop while the Apple was brought up to speed. Then we backtracked, not the way we came – we couldn’t have done that if we’d tried! This time it was the sardine subway and then the lemming subway until we found the station for the train to Avezzone back on the outskirts of the city. It was 7.30; we’d left Avezzone at 1 o’clock. Then next train wasn’t till 8.30. We were hungry. Very hungry. So hungry I did something I haven’t done since I was 16 and the first MacDonald’s came to Canberra. I walked boldly and unapologetically to the counter and ordered a burger – bacon and cheese was the best I could do. I wasn’t so hungry I could go the pattie. Not yet. Not today. It was what might be called being grateful for small mercies – at least it wasn’t pasta, pizza or pastry!
As for tomorrow, to walk on or rest over, well . . . let’s see how the morning greets us.