Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Passing Human Parade

When you return home from traveling everyone wants to know what you saw. Tourist destinations, ruins, natural and man-made wonders get rattled off in quick succession. But one of my favorite things about travel is the people you see. It's a bit more difficult to document them. I didn't want to offend our maid in Rome by taking her picture.

But oh, how I wanted to. She was adorable in her black and white dress and apron, wild hair tied up over her head, carrying her pail and mumbling in exasperation under her breath. She was perfect. When we couldn't find our room she became the friendliest most helpful creature imaginable exuding kindness across the language barrier. If I were a man I would have fallen instantly in love with her. She was straight out of Hollywood casting.

I was mesmerized by housewives in aprons doing their ritual daily chores; sweeping, throwing the bedding over the balcony railing to air, hanging the laundry out the window many stories up.

While shopping in a trendy clothing store in Rome my daughter and I stepped out of dressing rooms to look at ourselves in the mirror and were instantly set upon by the sales girls. They chattered in Italian as they flew around the store grabbing the accessories they thought we needed, adjusted our clothing, and in general worked magic. I had on a conservative gray sweater dress and she pulled it off one shoulder.

"Sexy." She announced.

I tried to imagine wearing it that way at home...

But still she made the sale of the dress and the black leather belt she suggested, I wished I could bring her home.
I so desperately need a style wizard.

I tried to make mental notes of the man who made my machiato, the waitress who explained our food in detail, the tour guides. I wondered about their lives. 

I enjoyed the fountains and ruins, basilicas and piazzas, as usual, but I enjoyed people watching and interacting, most of all. What is even, an eternal city, without the people who bring it to life?

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