ROMA, MIO AMORE
ROME, Italy Tina sears flat bread and cherry tomatoes in olive oil. "She's just as cool as you said," I hiss at my Kiwi friend Tim.
"I told you," he retorts.
Well, yeah, sure, but who believes anyone's hype about the new girlfriend?
Tina a lanky and lovely and laconic Norwegian emerges from the flat's kitchen with a bowl of buffala mozarella, nuggets so fresh they collapse under the weight of their own cream. Meanwhile, my resolve melts in the afternoon spring sunshine...
"I'm supposed to be at the Sheraton in EUR*," I confess. "Researching."
"Absolutely not. Forget it. We'd be insulted," they say. " Don't be silly. Go nap. We'll have an aperitif when you wake."
And so I fall back into the rhythm of Testaccio, the blue-collar neighborhood I love best in Rome. I eat well, drink well and laugh until my bulging belly aches. I slack behind elaborate excuses. I run hours late.
No one cares, of course.
"You've re-adapted nicely," Tim notes.
Rome's the city where my instincts make sense: the hustle, the dodge, the hedonism, the hand gestures, the odd intellectual flare, the creative intensity, the opera buffa lifestyle, the insane urge to drive a moped in stilettos ... so many essentials snap into the status quo here.
We sip white wine near the Pantheon, something of a tradition now. "When are you moving back?"
"Soon," I wish. "Part-time, at least, soon as I can."
*the @ss-ugly, Fascist-built outskirts of Rome, near Cinecitta.