Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Lights

The Christmas lights have, at long last, been threaded throughout the dazzling streets of Rome. And as I walk along under the evening light, gazing at the beaded illumination, glowing sparklers and shimmering ribbons of bulbs- I experience a mixture of emotions- joy, nostalgia and regret. Joy- because how can one not be joyful in Rome around the holidays? Nostalgia- because…well I don't really know why. Maybe I just miss my family. And a bit of regret- because I am leaving for India in three days- which means I will fully miss out on the three most important Italian winter milestones: Christmas, New Year’s Eve and the Winter Sales (sigh…particularly due to the latter).

Right now- Rome is so beautiful, so festive- and so incredibly charming. But I’m sad- and as I sat on the couch attempting to find the words to explain how I feel, with MTV blaring on the television in the background, I heard Chris Martin’s familiar voice singing a new song, Christmas Lights. Coldplay sang… “Doesn’t really feel like Christmas at all.” Good song- just about how I feel- have a listen below…I guess I would call it my 2010 Christmas anthem. I have to say, its much better than Train’s overplayed Christmas song, “shake up the happiness, wake up the happiness, come on ya’ll…it’s Christmas time.”

I mean, come on. Seriously?

To make matters worse- I just found out that Limewire is under a court order to stop distributing software. Which means no Christmas music on my new hard drive. Sorry Mariah.

Of course, I am thrilled to be leaving for India- it's a trip I’ve been anticipating for the greater part of five years. On the other hand, having spent nearly 15 days of the last 30 in the Indian Embassy has not proven been the best launch to the magical experience I have in mind. In Shantaram, the author mentioned something about the Indians being the Italians of the East. Now, I haven’t yet been to India- but I have spent days waiting around the Indian embassy- and I can honestly say, based on first impressions (from a bureaucratic standpoint) that this statement couldn't be more true. I laughed when I read it. Yet- I cried when I realized it was true.

I have been completely at the mercy of this incredibly unfortunate culture clash. Simply put Italians (disorganized, slow, stubborn, proud, fiery and aloof) in an office, add a few Indians (indifferent, smug, stubborn and apathetic) and voilá- welcome to inefficiency and a lot of unanswered inquiries. Finally though, I am happy to report, I did manage to get my visa. Please don't get me wrong- the larger fraction of my favorite people in the world consist of both Italians and Indians- I am purely speaking on my experience with the employees of the Indian Embassy of Rome on Via 22 Settembre, 5 (in case anyone was wondering how to find where misery lives…)

I suppose one good thing about Italy is that its national colors are already green and red- therefore, only a few changes have to be made in invoke the “Christmas Spirit”- a snowflake here, a silver bell there- and there ya go. Along with the lights and the trees and the Santas in store windows- Rome is utterly freezing- but like .01 degrees too warm to snow- which is the worst. This weather means, to me; blue lips, walking around in my ski clothes, three horrible days of the flu and the interminable waiting for snow like Waiting for Godot. I am so pumped full of medicine it’s hard to really bask in the Christmas joy of hanging lanterns and glittering palazzi. I did feel good enough today to go to the dog park in Villa Borghese, where a baby Dalmatian maimed Dudy’s perfect little nose so badly I think he’s going to be disfigured for life. But as my friend Stephan says, I’m building up my sh*t capital so that the India trip will go off without a hitch. (here’s hoping…)

Oh, and I spent last weekend in Naples for the Baptism of my Boyfriend’s niece. We went to the family church in the tiny city outside of Pompeii where Antonio grew up. That was interesting as well. Here’s how it went (I’m going to do this in English):

Antonio: “Morgan I want to introduce you to the priest. He basically raised me” (at this point- I should have known to run)

Morgan: “OK”

Priest: “Hi Antonio. How’r’ya? This the girlfriend? Ah well, Antonio- I was watching you, you didn't cross yourself in the manner you were raised. (looks at me all knowingly) You should teach him.”

Morgan: “I’m Jewish”

Priest: (looks at me with an expression between shock and disappointment) “hmmmm ….well….(looks at Antonio) Are you going to convert?(Looks at me) I guess….you are still waiting for your God.

Whatever that means…

Morgan: (speechless)

Aunt of Antonio: (Interjects) “No she has Allah.”

Morgan: (still speechless)

Antonio: (babbles something inaudible)

Really? That was news to me…

So that was fun.

Now...I’m going to go out, eat pizza, and snap a few shots of some dangling lights before I leave for the third world. 

A dopo….