The only thing I’ve been doing more frequently as of late than blogging on trains is making explicit mention of the fact that I’m blogging while onboard a particularly train. If this irks you, dear reader, I apologize sincerely.
The reason I’m always writing on the go, of course, is because I am always on the go. Most recently, I’ve wrapped up a two-day visit to Rome, one I planned as an opportunity for me to retrace the steps of my 2007 visit there: I retraced almost none of said steps.
There has, not surprisingly, been nostalgia. But reconciling the professional globetrotter I am today with the bright-eyed, bushy tailed backpacker I was the first time I set foot in the Eternal City has brought about some surprisingly big questions.
That I made a beeline for the Colosseum the moment I arrived in Rome back in 2007 is a testament to how poorly-traveled I was at the time. That I arranged a dinner date with the Roman stud at tourist information shows that travel leaves some things unchanged.
I met my this year’s Rome lover, Leonardo, in a similarly happenstance way. When I say “happenstance,” I mean that we both “happened” to be on Grindr — and in close enough proximity to appear on one another’s screens — the moment I opened the app.
(And when I say “dinner” RE: my 2007 encounter with the tourist services employee whose name I can’t remember, you know what I actually mean: We were naked before the pasta hit the water.)
To be sure, my meeting with Leonardo was never intended to facilitate anything more than sex. Although he brought beer with him when he met me at Cornelia station it, like the pasta years before, was untouched by the time our dirty deed was done.
The difference lies not in my intent — to sample “local flavor,” even if Leonardo is actually from Pisa — but in the outcome: I kissed Leonardo goodbye with a second date already planned; my first Rome fling was over me before I put my clothes back on.
Veni, Vidi, Vici
A unique fact about my maiden voyage to Rome is that I was vegan. Yes, you read that right: I set foot in the land of pasta and pizza eating neither meat, nor dairy, nor eggs, nor even refined sugars — even gelato was out of the question.
After strolling through the Vatican today, I stepped into the kebab shop I’d visited nearly every day of my 2007 trip. I salivated at the hunk of meat rotating in front of me, one I’d previously looked upon with disdain as I ordered my sauce-only pizza marinara.
Since the priorities of my 2007 trip to Rome had been to get laid and remain vegan, the two days I booked in Rome this year would allow me to cover most of the ground I missed last time. But my intent was, once again, largely the same.
In both instances, the idea was very “veni, vidi, vici” in nature — come (don’t laugh!), see and conquer. Do as much as I possibly can in a too-short time, then leave feeling accomplished at having done it successfully.
I did cover plentiful camera-wielding tourist ground during the past 48 hours, from Piazza del Popolo, to Fontana de Trevi, to another walk around the Colosseum — but none of those places are on my mind as I speed toward Venice at 300 km/h.
An Exhaustive Inventory
Leonardo is: Our aforementioned second date was epic. We held hands as we watched the sun set over Rome from Villa Dora Pamphlini, the highest point in the city; we danced all night at a techno party set amid ancient ruins.
When I woke up next to him in his tiny, piping hot apartment this morning, the fact that I had a 1:45 P.M. train to Venice was the furthest thing from my mind. My two hopelessly romantic days in Rome have temporarily taken me out of traveler mode.
The thought that I might abruptly abandon my nomadic lifestyle and return to the Eternal City to be with my sun-kissed lover has already crossed my mind on more than one occasion. To buffer such a hasty prospect, I’ve begun an exhaustive internal inventory.
Can I continue my life on the road, but “travel” less and “live” more? Am I past the point where I even need to pay mind to the “popular” attractions of a particular city, as handsomely as Google rewards me for writing keyword-rich articles about them?
The world clearly has more to offer me than photo ops in exotic locales, as bountiful and ever awe-inspiring as they might be — when will I feel sure enough I deserve these gifts that I can accept them?