Rome is both extravagant and simple. It is beautiful and dirty. The street sweeper comes by all the time and yet the streets are littered with cigarette butts. The walls drip with bouganvillea vines but are covered with crappy graffiti that looks like the work of bored kids more than the marks of artists or gangsters. There are shrines to the Madonna everywhere. There are notches and nooks along the ancient walls that make you peek and wonder. Roads confuse the hell out of me – you spend more time curving than going straight. You might be nowhere or you might be by the garbage transfer station or you might be at the edge of a mysteriously beautiful garden that holds a statue of the brazilian wife of Garibaldi. Then there is a church with winged skeletons in the nave and the bloodiest Christ you’ve ever seen. An electric candelabra plugged into the wall for your prayers. And this is just in our neighborhood.  The rest of the city is still waiting. Its overwhelming.

And yet, the thing about travel is how fast you connect in the in-between state and how important simple things are. Today, my entire day was made by two things: 1) fresh herbs and 2) a 1970s Encyclopedia Britannica. One was used in a beautiful dinner made for me in my apartment by a new friend, another entertained our children for about an hour while we talked.

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