The water tastes funny
The floors are rather grimey
The food is too salty
The locals speak way too fast
The systems are confusing
I’m not a tourist – please don’t treat me like one
I have never really thought about it but I relate so strongly to being ‘the local’ that it is rather unnerving to be considered the foreigner here in Rome. We were at a loss when we didn’t know how to receive registered mail or sort our trash. Some times I get so stressed when I don’t know which language to speak -confident English, broken Chinese or highly-rehearsed Italian (though sometimes it might come out as my level 1 Spanish) – each could lead to very different reactions. Even at Mass, part of me wants to adapt to the Italian responses and customs, but the other part of me wants to be able to comprehend and express myself.
Whilst we spent the first few days trying to become less foreign by settling admin matters and cleaning the house, other things in life started to become more foreign. I couldn’t keep up with the news, I didn’t know what was happening in church anymore and most of all, I wondered why Shaun and I suddenly became so different.
Something I’ve heard and read about quite often is that “systems here are quite frustrating but don’t take it personally“. Strange isn’t it? Why would anyone allow an external system to affect them on a personal level? But it has. Too often we argued when we both have wildly different approaches and expectations while making a decision.
I have always sought comfort in Shaun and I having similar ideals and a similar vision, if we both want the same thing, and promised to be there for each other through thick and thin, then why on earth are we fighting?! While wanting to be adamant and the feelings of anger, I’ve had to remind myself that we are on the same team, we aren’t foreign to each other. We aren’t called to work round each other, we need to work through each other…
After one big fight, the next day we had one of the smoothest days in terms of getting things done. We even joked that perhaps we should fight more often if it meant better ‘luck’ with the systems. But of course we like to think that our unity came at the cost of friction and sparks.
In the past 10 days, we have realized how much has to change in our lives. Our knowledge (in housework and eventually in studying), our routines, our home, our dynamics, our roles, our expectations, our concept of church and our mission. The settling in is just about done, soon it’s time to do the real thinking.. what to do, what to do, what to do indeed…
Perhaps as a non-tourist, Rome lacks it’s charm with it’s history and grand churches, nevertheless, I hope inspiration eventually kicks in and the beauty is not left on the wall but felt in the heart.
This is St Paul outside the wall, technically, it’s in a couple lists of non-touristy things to do in Rome 😛