Some of us hit this city midstream, not quite fresh-faced or kissed by youth but inwardly, and sometimes outwardly, haggard, in a last but galant attempt to rewrite the script of our lives before middle age officially set in.
Even if our lust for worldly adventure carried us across oceans, transplanting us to distant shores, our thirst for evening escapades past midnight has waned to the size of a barely existent crescent moon. Not keen on all-night partying across the cobblestones of Trastevere or 2 pm disco runs where men half your age randomly press their crotches into any part of you they can access on the dance floor, we prefer to spend our weekends strolling through Villa Borghese, shopping, cooking, and doing laundry for the week ahead, or catching up with friends or family we’ve neglected due to overwork, overexhaustion, or over self-involvement.
In short, we live our normal 40-year-old lives, just in a spectacular setting. We don’t wonder if we’ll stay or if we’ll go (because we were already pretty sure of that before we came) but if we’ll work this weekend or play… and will there be enough time to do those five milion things we haven’t gotten around to yet.
While we may not want to know about every great, cool new thing that’s happening in this city, we do want to know about how the politics of Italy and Rome will directly affect our lives, our pocket books, or hopefully, some day, our yet-to-be-conceived children’s lives. We want to know about cultural norms, standards, and differences in attitudes and manners from our countries of origin, not necessarily so that we can assimilate them, but so we can at least understand them and not be burned by them.
We want to know how Italian men and women differ from, let’s say, American men and women, and how to best avoid embarrassment, entrapment, betrayal and heartbreak, not due to the normal ins and outs of love, but due to the cultural divide that makes gender differences all that more complicated here. We’re old enough that we’ve learned too many lessons the hard way and now we just want someone else to tell us what’s what. We want to build our lives here armed with as many tools and guides as possible.
To that end, on a monthly basis in this column we’ll look at issues of permanance and cultural impact on transplants from a not quite as sprightly demographic. From how in the hell do I find an all-purpose shoe in this city that won’t cost me a fortune, yet not fall apart after a month, to how my Italian roomate explained the current political crisis to me, and should we be concerned about it.
We will also explore ways to volunteer, contribute and give back to this crazy city we love, and how to pull yourself back into that realm of gratitude, marvel at the beauty of Saint Peter’s at twilight on a day where you could have gladly kicked a puppy… or at least a nun.
Stay tuned and stay sane… at least until next week!