Just after college, I started a bucket list. I wrote it in my little journal and gave it some serious thought, taking a few weeks to finish it. At 24 years old, it was born from a young, limited view. I suppose that is the point of a bucket list; to help the person writing it become a more rounded, fulfilled, and aware future self.
Yesterday, I crossed off #25.
It’s strange to look at my list because I never put too much weight in to it. I think about it during those Very Big Birthdays and then generally remind myself I was young, everyone has a bucket list, and nobody ever does it.
Now that I’m the age of "The Answer To The Universe And Everything", it’s time to change that thinking.
There’s been so many shifts in my thinking since I turned 40. I’m experiencing a great deal of opportunities and work projects that put me smack where I feel I belong. I’ve developed a rich Inner Guide rewiring my previous expectations and thought patterns. I’m connecting with my children in ways I never realized was possible. I have an awareness of Change and acceptance of The Shifts Of Self, which results in a subtle, although significant, update to this software called “me.”
So it is that not quite two decades after taking the brave step to actually write down “See Rome” on my bucket list, which came years after pining about it in the first place, I arrive.
There are few cities that can boast with as much arrogance as Rome, but Rome has every right to its pride. The wiki page on Rome’s history is a pretty long one, which is clearly how you measure the richness of a culture. Sure, it’s somewhat past its prime, having peaked 2,000 years ago. But like all of us, Rome has its decisions and regrets and lessons learned over years. It is a place of magnificence because it is still here, not unlike a great grandfather who has tales of rebellion and sex and drugs in his youth, war stories and testosterone laden fights in his twenties and thirties, a turning to cultural values and business, and then later, a gentle old man with whom you can sit near by the fire and hear incredible tales while eating the best gelato.
Walking around Rome is a little like kicking off the dust in my own history, looking at which parts played a major role in forming who I am today and realizing how much of those foundations don’t have supporting walls attached now.
It’s as if the Italians saw how heavy the old stuff was and decided, “Eh, let’s leave that here and drive around it.” And so they did, everywhere, and it’s glorious.
Buses and ambulance swerve around pillars and archways randomly in the center of town. Sidewalks pass partial monuments, or crumbled walls, or a half mosaic of … something.. and passers-by glance at the millennia old art and keep walking as if the entire world is made up of wonderful gems like this. And it is, truly; their entire world is like this.
I’ve been in Rome for exactly 13 hours, 9 of which I slept, and I’ve already had Pizza, eaten one of the smallest, sweetest cannolis ever, and mis-ordered coffee by having a cappuccino at 5pm (this is nearly considered treason here, it's pretty much the first commandment).
At one point I’d wandered in to a book shop and after spending some time reading the backs of books and smelling the wonderful perfume of printed paper, I suddenly remembered I AM IN ROME! IN A BOOKSHOP! And decided it would be best to go see some fountains or something old because I can’t possibly write home about this fantastic little bookshop I found and look! I bought this book in Rome! Yes, it’s written in English, I know.
So it begins: That Thing Which I Have Wanted To Do Before I Die The Most. I would like to tell you that I have some great plans, that I have a list of significant places I want to visit or that I know all the places where the most rich histories are. I don’t. I have plans to drink coffee and wander aimlessly and take photos and yes, of course, I’ll look up the histories and read the stories and share them with you as I go but I can’t promise I won’t be telling you 90% stories of coffee, food and books and 10% old stuff I stumbled upon. Maybe this is too serendipitous of me. Maybe this is having too much confidence I will be back one day.
Or maybe this is how I love to travel the most: pretend I live here, walking by the old things and around the columns of history on my way to work or to grab coffee, but with a stupid grin and wide, fresh eyes drinking in every last drop of the scene around me.