Friday, March 30, 2007

Yup...I live here

I visited Rome years ago and stood across the street from the 2,000-year-old Colosseum. On the road that passes right in front of the Colosseum, Italian drivers whizzed by, talking on their cell phones and completely ignoring the imposing landmark right outside their windows. I remember thinking: Don't you people know what you're missing? You've got a world-famous piece of history right in front of you, and it doesn't even merit a glance?

But a part of me understood. You move to a new place, you go and see all the sights, and then never set foot in a single tourist-attraction until people come from out of town to visit.

That's how it was when I first came to live in Trieste in 1993. I was hired to teach at the international school here, along with two other friends/colleagues from Virginia--Dana and Cathy. We fell in love with Trieste at first sight, and couldn't believe we were actually living here instead of just visiting. But inevitably, regular day-to-day tasks like work and grocery shopping diluted our awe of Trieste, and we'd find ourselves forgetting--forgetting to look at the castle that jutted out into the gulf from the shoreline. Forgetting that the buildings in the piazza where we'd just bought a gelato were 200 years old. And forgetting to take in the ruins of a 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheater as we hurried to meet friends at a pizzeria.

But every once in awhile we'd stop. We'd look at the castle, the piazza, the amphitheater. And we'd grin and say: Yup...we live here.

I had one of these moments this week after taking my daughter to the indoor pool for her swimming lesson. While she splashed around with her teacher, I was supposed to be perched on a chair outside the pool in front of ceiling-to-floor windows watching her blow bubbles, kick, and doggy-paddle her way to the side of the pool. But I wasn't perched anywhere; I was chasing my 15-month-old son around the waiting area, trying (unsuccessfully) to keep toys out of his mouth belonging to other toddlers with runny noses, steer him away from the trash can (a toddler magnet) and ply him with crackers so he would stop grabbing the other kids' cookies. And all the while, I knew my little mermaid would later say: But Mommy, you weren't watching me!

As soon as the lesson was over, I whisked my daughter into the locker room and helped her change and dry her hair. All this took no more than 10 minutes, but it seemed like 10 hours-- my son screamed the whole time at the injustice of being buckled up in his stroller when it would have been so much more fun to explore the fascinating nooks and crannies of the women's locker room.

So we finally got out to the car, and I discovered one of my son's shoes was missing. Back inside, past the reception desk, down the hair-drying hall, and into the steamy locker room again, all of us dressed in heavy coats. I finally found the shoe, and we schlepped back to the car again.

By this time, I was a weensy bit stressed.

I got the kids buckled in, put the folded-up stroller into the back, and was about to walk around to the driver's side and get in the car.

That's when I noticed it.

Here's the view I had in front of me of the old buildings along the waterfront as seen through the masts of a hundred sailboats in the marina. And to think I almost missed this.

Yup. I live here.


Africakid said...

Beautiful! I feel the same way when I walk in Heidelberg and glimpse the old castle perched on a hill above the town.

cynjay said...

I live near San Francisco and can totally relate. It is still pretty amazing when you cross the bridge and see the whole city laid out in front of you - except if you are late and then you are just cursing the cars in front of you.

I remember standing in front of the Coloseum in the late 80's and feeling exactly the same way.It was awesome. You are lucky to live there.

Natalie said...

Hi Africakid--
I've only been to Heidelberg once, but loved it. You are lucky to have that castle view!

Hi Cyn,
San Francisco is another one of my all-time favorite cities. I'll hvae to visit you there one day. :-)