Yes, it might be fun to run a blog, but you have to have time to write it, and for the past two weeks Ginny and I have been frantically making ready for our departure to Rome, with no time for blogging about our lack of time for blogging. True, we have known about this sojourn in a foreign country since I received the good news a year ago that the Fulbright commission had accepted my application for a Fellowship at Sapienza, the centuries old nickname for the University of Rome. We’ve done a great deal of planning ahead for this moment, but that doesn’t mean the last two weeks before you leave won’t be frantic, and apparently frantic does not go well with blog, unless you are used to blogging, which I am not.
I could regale you with all of the ways that our planning to get to Rome was thwarted by all the usual, unexpected crises of Life that you can’t plan on. Like two weeks of blizzards in New York, where we live. Like a young man rear-ending our sophomore in college daughter Liana, her first vehicular accident, which left her in tears and in need of parental assurances and advice on getting her car to an auto body shop. And Ginny can tell you even more about four years of caring for her sister, culminating in January with her sister’s decision to go into nursing care, a transition that could not have happened without Ginny’s miraculous ability to juggle the many complexities—medical, social, financial, legal—in getting the best for her long suffering sister.
Happily, our actual trip to Rome—the drive in a snowstorm to Newark airport, the flight to Copenhagen, the connection to Rome over the Alps (which I slept through)—was utterly uneventful, and while I am looking forward to Rome as an opportunity to teach Italians about American literature (and to learn from their unique perspectives) and to conduct my Melville research, I cannot help but feel that I am also escaping from the hassles of home. But Rome has hassles, and there is no escaping life, if you are set on living. To put it better, I cannot help but feel that I am escaping the routines of home: the dog, the phone, the TV, the car, the Mexican order out, email, email, email. And I hope you won’t begrudge me this escape.
Ginny and I are 70 and 64, respectively, and too old for routine. Our little aches—her hip my shoulder—tell us we no longer have time to waste. We are writers and want to blog, not to record the sights of Rome for you—although we surely will—but to convey what it means to live a bit untethered, to live as strangers in Rome, and to report on the birds I heard in the night.