Italian archaeologists announced this week that they have discovered an ancient cave in Rome that is believed to be the location in which a she-wolf nursed the abandoned Remus and Romulus, who later became the legendary founders of Rome. (Just read over that part very quickly and shelve the obvious questions). The cave is located beneath the Palatine Hill, between the Forum and Coliseum, where I was standing this very week last year. Had I known about the cave, there's a good chance I may have thrown my traveling companion (my then-girlfriend) in the cave or would have just thrown myself down into it. What an awful trip!
It pains me to say such things. I had been to Rome and Florence for Thanksgiving back in 2000 and had a wonderful time. I had been plotting my return since I came back home. So it didn't seem like a coincidence when my girlfriend of only two weeks asked me if I'd join her in Italy for a vacation her parents were giving her. Already mistaking infatuation for love once again ("But this time it's different!") I signed on with almost no hesitation. The hesitation started brewing after a month or two went by, the infatuation started to subside, and the seeds of doubt were planted as if by Iago himself. Alas, reservations were already made so I was stuck.
The universe, sensing my dismay, chose to reward me by weakening the US dollar to a historical low against the Euro, by having me sleep on a mattress made of granite, and by rendering my girlfriend both boring and mute. As we walked for 12-15 hours a day, I still gained weight because endless carbs were the only things we could afford. Meat? You've got to be kidding. We couldn't afford meat. Nor could we afford enough wine to help us forget our misery. I spent nearly every waking hour daydreaming of my previous trip with a wonderful friend and her extended family, of extravagant meals that went on for hours, of great wines and conversation and endless laughter...... By the end of the trip I was crippled from the mattress and heartbroken. Funny, I was much more heartbroken over the trip than I was over the impending demise of my relationship. Priorities, you know.
I know I've been incredibly lucky to go to Rome not once, but twice. A bad trip to Rome is still a trip to Rome, no? And there were aspects I enjoyed. I may very well be the only lapsed Lutheran to have a love affair with St. Peter's and the Vatican. I can't explain it. My mother and maternal grandmother were Catholic, so I was exposed to Catholicism growing up, but I really blame "The Bells of St. Mary's" and all those other idealistic Catholic school movies as well as my love of history. There's something magical about Rome (not the least of which is the story of a wolf nursing two human babies!) and I can't wait until I can go back. I just have to make sure I've got a ton of money and wonderful company the next time. Oh, and a softer mattress. My neck is still messed up!