Just let me take a shower, please.
“You can’t check in until 4:00. But you can leave de bag here until den,” the girl at the check in desk looks sympathetic. Her English is good; her message is not. It’s 11 a.m. No one is allowed to be in de rooms during de early afternoon. Dey must be cleaned.
Just shoot me in the face.
She gestures to a corner to stuff the bag in and slides a map of Rome across the desk.
Do we all show up here with no map?
There is a family of bleary-eyed Northern Europeans sitting on the sofa nearby, all clearly thinking the same thing I am about waiting five hours to lie down. Just with different expletives. At least I’m not traveling with kids.
I snatch the map, try not to growl at the nice girl, leave de Pink Panther and head back out onto the sweltering street.
Why, why didn’t I just book a regular hotel? It’s only three nights. I could have conned someone into getting me into an open room early.
Because it’s three nights and I’m on a tight budget.
In the seven months since Jamie’s office, I lost my job, which was only part time anyway, and my residual income has shrunk drastically. I booked the non-refundable flight to Italy right after I got the money so I wouldn’t back out, but then I ended up using a good portion of the rest to subsidize my monthly expenses and I’ve had to really penny pinch on this trip. I left a temp job to come here. I hope they want me back when I’m done with this.
This was supposed to be about figuring your career out, remember? Right, except I still have to pay rent while I’m figuring. Soul searching doesn’t have the best pay scale or benefits package.
I take off in no particular direction. I don’t even look at my new map. I have layers of salt that have dried and been sweated over on my skin. My hair is stiff. I feel like death warmed over, as my grandmother was fond of saying. I probably look it too. Like a 12-year-old kid in my sneakers and jeans, since I stand 4 feet 11 inches tall and from behind, you really can’t tell how old I am unless you take a close look at my ass. It doesn’t look like a 12-year-old ass. I pass along a wide-ish avenue beside a cordoned-off section of construction. There’s yellow plastic fencing running along the perimeter next to the sidewalk and a huge sunken level that looks like the underground parking has already been excavated. But the ground is green. I stop and take a closer look. It’s grass.
Damn. I’ve heard things take longer to get done here, but that’s pretty bad.
The sunken enclosure is about a block square, and has grass growing in large patches all over the dirt and the massive pre-fab concrete support cylinders there are just scattered around as if they were Tinker Toys. There are stone blocks mixed in here and there. The site must have run out of funding. Sounds like L.A. Don’t know what it was supposed to be but it hasn’t been worked on in a while. All of the surrounding buildings look like they date back at least a couple of hundred years.
Wait a second, dufus, those aren’t cylinders, they’re columns. Old broken columns. Holy cow! Those are Roman ruins! Holy shit!
I’m so excited. I’m not looking at a construction site, I’m looking at an archeological site. I’m suddenly wide awake and grinning from ear to ear. There’s a sign at the corner. It explains the ruins are from the era of Augustus Ceasar. In the middle of the city.
I’m an idiot.
I hadn’t realized that Rome is one big ruin, it’s not something they sort of rope off at the edge of the city.
I’ve forgotten about the heat. I’m enthralled with the pieces of stone. I’m invigorated.
I rip out my map and get my bearings. It’s a cheap paper tourist map with only the major streets and lanmarks on it. It’ll do, but I wouldn’t want to navigate the city with it in the dark.
The Coloseum looks fairly close so I head down the street, heart thumping. About a block later I see a familiar looking building looming up over the road, and there it is.
Haaaaaaaa! Oh my God!
From my P.O.V. it looks like it’s sitting in the middle of the street. It’s breathtaking. I close in.
Son of a bitch!
The lines for tickets to get in are also breathtaking.