"The best adventure of all--living openly and allowing life to touch the heart."
This past weekend was full of these best-adventures. One began with the simple need to leave the house for a bit, to get fresh air, stretch the legs, go on an amble amidst a greater reality. I went with one of the other Probanists who was looking for chemical-free cream. In our walk along the Tiber we were beset with "carcajadas" (loud guffaws/silliness/laughter--SUCH a great word) as well as the quiet rumination and wandering conversation that is allowed when two people are at ease and trust one another.
That feeling is a precious one and I have been gifted with two friendships like this in the months I have been here. Who knew it would be that way? I am filled with such a depth of gratitude.
We continued along the river until the bridge that would take us to the Plaza Argentina. Across the river, in between checking pharmacies, we stopped at a pen/paper store and somehow began a conversation on the history of colors while looking at the rainbow of sheets they had stacked on the walls. In hearing Spanish being spoken, a woman in the next aisle said, "Oh! It is SO nice to hear people speaking Spanish!" She came over and engaged in conversation. Turns out, she is an engineer from Venezuela who has lived in Rome for 16 years.
In a short time, we got the brief version of her last twenty years or so and also shared with her who we were and why we were in Rome. She was so kind, so open and interested...and helpful and generous as well! When we told her about the cream and the need to find blank cds, she set out on the walk with us. She showed us the Jewish quarter of the City, pointed out stores we should visit for different things we needed, told us about her family, and dropped us off at an herbalists' shop. But, the shop was temporarily closed. So, she invited us to join her for a classic Italian sandwich at a shop just around the block while we waited for the clerk to return.
The deli specializes in "paninos"--especially those filled with mortadella. I admit to having previously snubbed the thought of mortadella...think really huge bologna made from pork, small chunks of pork fat, pistachios, and various spices. Note the use of the word Previously... this sandwich was amazing. Foccacia bread split open, paper thin mortadella stacked inside, wrapped in a brown paper wrapper and handed to you to take outside and eat on the go. The line was out the door, the shop was insanely small and jammed full of people calling out "Largo!" "Piccolo!", indicating sizes with handspans, and a clerk who could make change, toss change, and keep order with an ease I have not often witnessed.
The sandwich practically melted in my hand...so tender, so delicious, so...of the moment. Walking the streets of Rome with a friend, accompanied by an incredibly kind woman we did not know an hour ago, speaking Spanish, eating a mortadella sandwich wrapped in crispy brown paper, and wiping crumbs onto the cobblestones for the birds to find.
This followed by a slow walk home, God-filled conversation, more laughter, watching the river...
And then another walk in the evening, this time with a group of people... to look for the Mariachi Mass that never was. Turns out the information we had was wrong about the day. Some opted to stay in the same place and wait through the Rosary until Mass began. The two of us who had been together earlier opted to walk back toward home and find another Mass instead. Those who stayed ended up in the midst of a Latin Rite Rosary and Mass. We, however, ended up in a simple, though lovely, church, with a cantor who had an incredibly lovely voice--so rich and round. We followed this with a walk in the Trastevere and pizza while sitting outside.
Then, a fabulous movie in the community room with others who were knitting, braiding hair, and simply being with one another.
Indeed..."allowing life to touch the heart..."