Happy Day, I’m Not in Safeway

My everyday Mom duties followed to Rome. When I woke up that first morning, my first thought was: we need to go grocery shopping. We chose an apartment over a hotel because the kitchen gave us an option of eating breakfast or dinner without the stress of a restaurant (essential option during those temperamental toddler years).  Now that we had a kitchen, we needed to stock it.

Neighborhood street

After a quick breakfast of espresso and cookies (compliments of  the apartment) we strapped Ada onto Aaron’s back (using the backpack we brought as another kid transport option), and wound our way down steep 14th century stairs and out onto a narrow, cobbled street, in search of a grocery store.

italy_receipt-roma

Grocery shopping in a foreign country is a cultural must-see.  We pushed our cart down the miniature aisles stacked high with exotic food in strange packages, trying to decipher the flavors of juice and yogurt by the fruit pictured on the box. We watched chatting locals buy fruit and learned to use plastic gloves when picking out produce. We marveled at the deli, with its assortment of cheese and huge slabs of meat the butcher attacked with his knife. The cashier used hand signals to demonstrate that we bag our own groceries. This wasn’t a typical Safeway, and I was in heaven.

With our fridge stocked and our hunger satisfied by a real meal of prosciutto cotto and provolone sandwiches, we were ready to explore our neighborhood.We were embraced by colorful buildings — white, yellow, sunset orange – each vibrating their own history.

arched buildingMost of them housed apartments like ours on top with storefronts of cafes, tiny galleries, or itty-bittyshops selling just one item – like ornate door knobs.  Two men argued in the street, using wild gestures and dramatic, lyrical tirades and ended it in jovial laughter. The air was warm and buzzed with energy. It was storybook Rome.

We happily lost ourselves in the labyrinth, blissfully holding hands while Ada peacefully napped on Aaron’s back. Once we reached the Tiber River, I spotted Castel Sant’ Angelo peaking out between the maple trees. Using my mental map I instantly knew where we were. My heart raced — Ada was asleep — perfect timing!

Asleep on dad's backFollowing a mob of tourists, we rushed over the bridge past the illegal purse vendors, past the old women curled into themselves begging for change (holding my purse tight, just in case), past the metal detectors and into St. Peter’s Basilica.

At this moment, my role as Mom was on hold and the old me — the history craving, explorer — was officially awake. And I wasn’t feeling so restless anymore.