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You can run but you can’t hide

March 28, 2011

I’ve been out of town a lot, as a few commenters have noted. It may be that I have been trying to avoid certain things, or prove everyone wrong who says you can’t flee your problems. But a friend who has known me since we were teenagers wrote the other day and said he was worried about me, that he sensed from my “tone” that I was possibly under the weather, and he wondered what, exactly, was wrong, and whether he could help.

And I’ll get back to him about that just as soon as I get back from here.

It is true that I’ve been consciously detaching from certain things and certain people, in an effort to preserve my sanity. Call it an experiment whose results were mixed. On the home front, being away from my kids (and REALLY away, not just around the corner) got the au pair to finally step it up and act like the parent he was always meant to be. However, being away from my house, my friends, my boyfriend and my various and sundry responsibilities hasn’t worked out quite as nicely. My life feels like I’m always just parachuting into the middle of a crisis, and I’m at risk of losing my bearings altogether. Last week I started going back to bed every morning after I got my younger son off to school (this is shameful, really)–I’d crawl under the still-warm duvet, crank up the heating pad, and sleep for two or three hours. I’d get up about noon, potter around in my bathrobe (once I hit the deck, as it were, when a friend knocked at the door–I threw myself down behind the sofa and didn’t move until she went away) and then guiltily shower and dress right before my younger son got home.

At three-forty in the afternoon.

I was not productive, though I did manage to teach one class (my erudite Classics professor friend asked me to talk to her students about the Oresteia, which was the most thrilling thing I’ve done in months, and which jolted me out of my torpor for nearly a whole day) and I avidly read the first two books of the Hunger Games trilogy (highly, highly, highly recommended). I made a cake for my son, who turned fifteen. I didn’t return phone calls, I avoided errands like the plague, I did not fold laundry or vacuum or tend to the horrifying marks made on one of my windows by two separate doves who flew into the glass on two separate occasions while I was home, scaring the bejesus out of me and leaving the imprints of their downy breasts on the pane. (They were both fine. They flew off after a couple of minutes. But the evidence of both collisions is still there, in low relief, with even a stuck feather or two left behind for extra shame.)

One is tempted to blame the weather, which has been truly atrocious. One could also say that times of transition are trying, and one needs to conserve one’s energy for the things that really matter. It is true that there has been a seismic shift in my relationship with my ex-husband, a wonderful one, and that cannot be gainsaid. But it’s also true that I have not been exactly skipping for joy (once the Honduras sunshine wore off, that is) and so I’m, you know, fleeing the coop again, because the tickets were free, the kids were gone anyway, the opportunity was there, and my boyfriend and I decided what the hell, we were going to seize the day.

Days. Seven. We’ll be gone for seven days. We’ve never done this before. We’re going to Rome, where I spent a happy semester junior year studying ruins and art. I haven’t been back since. It’s one place I never went with my ex-husband, during all our far-flung travels. We leave tonight, fly to Dublin (hi Twangy!), change planes, and thence to Rome. If anyone has (modestly priced) restaurants to recommend, I’d be most grateful. And when I get back, I vow to take a deep breath and bravely stay put for a while, since I’m clearly not fooling anyone by running away every two seconds.

I’ll check comments obsessively while I’m gone. Ciao!

19 Comments leave one →
  1. Katherine permalink
    March 28, 2011 12:27 pm

    Wow. Free tickets to Rome. Have fun. I’ve never been to Rome, but when we travel, we often find restaurant suggestions on Or asking the hotel for non-touristy restaurants.

  2. March 28, 2011 12:33 pm

    Oh wow! Have you any empty airport time, or shall you be sprinting from one gate to the next?

    I could come with sustenance! Seriously, I am 20 mins from the airport.

    Dammit, you’re probably gone. On the way back maybe?

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      March 28, 2011 12:54 pm

      Seriously? We land at (cough) 5:10 am, and have a couple of hours, and then on the return have a couple of hours at a more decent hour…but would LOVE to. Email me. I’ll email you. Stay tuned.

  3. March 28, 2011 1:39 pm

    A straight line from Dublin to Rome passes almost directly over my house, so I shall be doing me some serious waving. It’s the redbrick with the toddler toys scattered everywhere: you can’t miss it!

  4. Jen permalink
    March 28, 2011 1:40 pm

    Rome? Wow! Here are two restaurant recommendations from a 2007 trip:

    Armando al Pantheon
    Salita dei Crescenzi, 31 – Tel. 06-68803034

    Hostaria Nerone
    Via Terme di Tito 96 – Tel. 06-4817952

    Also, for espresso, try Bar Sant’Eustachio
    Piazza Sant’Eustachio 82
    Tel. 06-68802048

    Have fun!

  5. SarahB permalink
    March 28, 2011 2:29 pm

    Rome! Wonderful. I spent a great summer there. Just go to Giolitti for gelato repeatedly. I recommend…well, all of it, but especially the pear.

  6. Ellie permalink
    March 28, 2011 8:27 pm

    Go to “l’Archetto” near “la Fontana di Trevi” they have probably a hundred different spaghetti! And that oldest cafe of Rome was magical but I can’t recall it’s name

  7. Celeste permalink
    March 28, 2011 9:43 pm

    Ciao, Bella!

  8. March 28, 2011 10:08 pm

    I don’t remember the specific name of the restaurant, but it had something to do with firefighters or a firehouse…. Anyway, they served something called an “artichoke in the Jewish style” and you could eat every bit of it somehow and I still dream of it. SO good.

    I’m jealous! Have an amazing time!

  9. March 28, 2011 10:58 pm

    Have an awesome time! I love Rome and am sooo jealous. This trip will be exactly what you need to jumpstart the rest of your life.

  10. Hawkeye permalink
    March 29, 2011 8:48 am

    I couldn’t put down the Hunger Games series either. Fantastic.

    Rome – I am jealous! Can’t wait to see some gorgeous pictures.

  11. Pinkie Bling permalink
    March 29, 2011 1:05 pm

    Oh, I’m so very excited for you! Have a WONDERFUL time!

  12. March 31, 2011 7:19 am

    But, really. Is there nothing a getaway can’t cure? I think not. Big cheers for detaching. It is chicken soup for the soul.

  13. youngest wren of nine permalink
    April 5, 2011 9:56 am

    I’m assuming you’re back now, and I hope you had a fabulous time. So I’m thinking it is now safe to, politely, disagree with Juli: I think there is plenty a getaway cannot cure. Taking the weather with me, like in that Crowded House song — been there, done that. I remember my one time in Rome where I was trying, not very successfully, to distract myself from a recent miscarriage. There was much “I see, not feel, how beautiful they are”: all those fountains, and the food, and the Sistine Chapel (though, in all fairness: touring the Sistine Chapel with a toddler in a stroller is NOT the best of all possible worlds — unless they’ve made it wheelchair-accessible in the meantime? I remember a lot of hauling up and down stairs). And still, there was an afternoon when the Forum was bathed in warm, golden October sunlight, and it was simply beautiful. (And I did have two more children, a little later, so hey, Rome, maybe I ought to give you a second chance.)

    WordPress brought back the old format while you were away (yay!), and browsing your archives, I see that a year ago you were taken to task for a supposed German error. So let me — again politely but this time, firmly — state that “strengst verboten” is wrong, wrong, wrong. It should be “strengstens verboten” if you really do want the extra emphasis. (Though I would think that “streng verboten” is already quite, well, forbidding.) Btw, in our German-American household we do most of our bellowing in English because of its one-syllabic oomphiness.

    Finally, do you know it’s National Poetry Month, and that Knopf Poetry will send you a poem every day if you sign up? Sunday was “The Coat” by Deborah Digges. New to me, and both sad and lovely.

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      April 6, 2011 6:56 am

      I just signed up for poem of the day–thank you. Just read three stunningly gorgeous John Updike poems from the archives, too.

  14. irretrievablybroken permalink*
    April 5, 2011 6:59 pm

    OH! I was CORRECTED re “strengst verboten”–I thought I had quoted Nabokov, “strecht verboten” which, as it turns out, was incorrect–Nabokov had it as “streng verboten”. Now ich bin very confused. You commenters who are Allemanophones–help!

    • youngest wren of nine permalink
      April 6, 2011 1:00 pm

      Allemanophone — that would be me. I wasn’t around last April, so I don’t know what happened originally but it seems you typed something (was it “strecht verboten”?) which then caught RR’s eye who emended it to “strengst verboten”. In common parlance, this process is called “verschlimmbessern” — you think you’re making something better but you’re actually making it worse. (Kind of what WordPress did with their blog formatting, only they saw the error of their ways. Good for you, WordPress.) So the expression is “strengstens verboten”, and no, I cannot explain why, seeing how something like “hoechst erstaunlich” is correct. So whence the extra “…ens”? I dunno.

      Just in case there were momentous changes to the German language when I wasn’t looking, I googled “strengst verboten” and basically only got one hit. Which was a porn site.

      Btw, my claims to Germanness have just been substantiated because yesterday I became the proud owner of (drumroll, please) a Spaetzle-Maker. 200 comments into the 479 comments on the spaetzle post of “Smitten Kitchen”, this all of a sudden seemed to be an indispensable utensil. We’ll see if I ever used it.

      Glad you’re back! Get some sleep (and, if you can, try not to nap. We always do, and then it takes us weeks to adjust to the time change).

      • irretrievablybroken permalink*
        April 6, 2011 3:37 pm

        I went to kindergarten in Germany, and passed a “reading exam” in German in grad school (required, natürlich!) but am humbled (and always glad to be corrected.) Do you remember the episode of The Simpsons where Sideshow Bob has “Die, Bart, Die” tattooed somewhere, and claims it’s simply German for “The Bart, the”? The jury gasps and says, “No one who speaks German can be an evil man!”

        Anyway, the décalage horaire is worse going TO Europe, I think. This way I stagger around like a zombie after 8 pm but am chipper as hell in the morning (the opposite of my usual demeanor.)

        I am a huge fan of Spaetzle, however shaky my grasp of the language may be. Let me know how yours turn out, and please keep correcting me. But I can’t believe you scold in English! German is a MUCH scarier language to be reprimanded in.


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