because none of us is fucking up like we think we are, is what i'm trying to say

Friday, 25 May 2012

Goodbye, Rome.


Dear Rome,

Well bollock me sideways with an extra thin-crust margherita and a rice ball chaser, I’m leaving today. And do you know what? I’M PRETTY FUCKING SAD ABOUT IT.

That doesn’t surprise anyone more than it surprises me. I’ve spent nine months saying terrible, awful, non-retractable things about you to anyone who would listen, and now it’s crunch time and I’ve got one hand in my pocket, the other flicking ‘v’ sign, and tears stinging in my eyes. 

(Side note: I’m shit at pretending to be in an Alanis Morissette song.) 

The emotions are obviously Virginia’s fault.
When the reason for my banana-in-a-hat-tattoo-being hugged me at 5.59pm Thursday night, as our final lesson drew to a close, and I had the last meeting with her grandmother to say THAT KID. I LOVED THAT KID! suddenly I just broke down. That little Drew-Barrymore-in-E.T.-esque kid wrapped her arms around me so tight and for so long that I had no choice but to accept the love. It felt like she was MAESTRA. I GET IT. I CHANGED YOU. I’M GLAD THIS HAPPENED TOO. GOOD TALK.

I rubbed her back and let tears tickle my cheeks, and she held me tighter and tighter until I was laughing, and then she was laughing, and that little five-year-old Mental touched the tip of her nose to mine AND OHMYGOD I CAN’T EVEN FINISH WRITING THIS SENTENCE BECAUSE NOW I AM CRYING AGAIN SOMEBODY PASS ME ALL THE CARBOHYDRATES AND A PACK OF MENTHOLS STAT.

I guess when you tattoo a part of a kid on your body then you know that love is deep. And slightly delusional.

I think, Rome, if you’ve taught me anything- and blatantly that is the reason for the post, that you’ve taught me shagloads of EVERYTHING- it’s been that people are kind, and also kind of like me.

I spent my final year of university saying to Calum I’M THROUGH PASSING TIME WITH PEOPLE WHO MAKE ME FEEL BAD ABOUT BEING A TRAVELLER. TRAVELLING DOESN’T MAKE ME A BAD PERSON. I JUST LIKE TO SEE ALL THE THINGS. To which Calum was all, YOU KNOW, NOTHING IS MORE DAMAGING TO THE ADVENTUROUS SPIRIT THAN A SECURE FUTURE. And then I was all, FUCK. YOU’RE INSIGHTFUL SOMETIMES and he was all, I CAN’T LIE. THAT’S A CHRISTOPHER MCCANDLESS QUOTATION.

For a second I’d felt kind duped by that, but then I remember when I once said to him, I DON’T WANT ANYBODY TO PLEDGE TO LOVE ME FOREVER, ALL I WANT IS FOR SOMEBODY TO PROMISE ME THEY’LL TRY and Cal had been all impressed until I said, FINE. I STOLE THAT FROM A J.LO. SONG.

Hey, Rome- what’s with all the song references today? I think I’m using pop culture to avoid All The Feelings. Can we just snuggle on the couch and watch reality television on MTV rather than have this awkward goodbye?

No?

Oh.

Okay.

Look, I’ll say this only once. I’m glad we’ve been through all this together, Rome. The bag-stealing, and bus-strikes and poop, and floods and snowstorms and nuns and room-sharing. Because I found my tribe out here. I found a community of awesome people who are what I am: not from ‘round here. And for a girl who has spent 26 years feeling like she isn’t from ‘round here, it’s been incredible to not belong somewhere with a bunch of other people, so that with some slightly bizarre but very welcome twist of fate I belong here more than I’ve felt I’ve ever belonged anywhere.

That last sentence confused me, too.

I’ve never had a job where I have so actively wanted to turn up every day. To swap expat stories with Americans and Romanians and Canadians and Scotsmen and Italians and people from my own country who crave adventure too.

I built a family here.

That’s pretty huge.

And it’s easier to say goodbye to this family because I am about to get on an overnight train to Liguria where I will spend a month with my other family, a family made up of travellers from all over the world just like this one. With this family, though, there is a lot more drinking and waking up in strangers’ beds and seeing the sunrise on the beach, whereas my Roman family are more babies and houses and brunches. (Well. Except when absinthe is involved.)

I’m so lucky I get them both.

I’ll also probably forget to be in touch for the next month, Rome, but that isn’t because I don’t adore you. It’s because I have debauchery to attend to. But then, you’ve read my manuscript and seen that sometimes, that’s just what I need. And you seem to love me all the more for it. That makes me all kinds of fuzzy inside.

To the family here who gave me clothes when I had nothing warm to wear, who riffled through trashcans to find my stolen bag; to the sisters who held me when I cried and told me to put on my big girl pants when I moaned too much. To the brothers who walked me home every night, and the students who made my days go funner and faster. To every single person who corrected my pronunciation, gifted me a part of themselves, and to the ones who haven’t so much as left footprints on my heart as given me a cast-iron mould of their feet. To Rome:

Thank you. You’ve made me something better. Something stronger. Something I am very proud of. It’s all because of you.

And we will meet again.

All my inarticulate and overly verbose love,

Laura Jane Williams
A Mental. 

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