In high school I spent a long weekend in Rome with my best friend, Pearl. We hopped a train in Lugano and arrived in Rome after dark. Pearl had grown up in Rome and her godmother was going to put us up. We had to wait a while before our ride showed up and the Italians were swarming us trying to fix us up with a cheap hotel. A woman who was traveling with us went off with one of them. We wondered if we would see her again.
We wandered around Rome for a couple of days seeing the sights. St Peter’s, the Pieta, the Vatican museum, the Sistine Chapel, the Coliseum. But our most favorite thing to do was walk down the Via Veneto and eat gelato.
On one occasion we ended up at the Spanish Steps. We were thinking about climbing them when this guy came up to us and said,
“Where are you from?”
Not a good question to ask us. We were both Third Culture Kids who had lived our entire lives moving from one country to the next. Pearl had grown up in Rome, was half Japanese, and currently called Tokyo home. I had already lived on five continents and currently called Nigeria home.
“We’re not from anywhere”
“Come on, you have to be from somewhere. Where are you from?”
“I’m from Tokyo”
“I’m from Nigeria”
“Okay…. Hey I’m from California!! The greatest place on Earth! California is the best!”
Pearl and I looked at each other, turned, and walked away. The last place we wanted to be was with a loud American who though he was great.
So we didn’t climb the Spanish Steps.
But we did enjoy an amazing 5 course meal in a packed restaurant where we never heard a word of English. I remember the tortellini soup to this day.
Now that was Roma!!