This is me coming off the plane into the historical city of Rome three days ago. I was so full of enthusiasm and promise for nothing but great times ahead. I have observed from years past that when I get too excited or worked up about something that is going to happen in the future, weighing too heavily on the promise of bliss, that oftentimes it backfires.
Chris’ stomach flu began on the first leg of the trip to Rome and by the time we were in the taxi taking death defying swerves around mopeds and down narrow ally ways, Chris was definitely in a bad mental and physical state of being. It was clear to me that he had the stomach flu, but he was sure it could be something far worse. Not to toot my own horn, but I really rose to the occasion and tried to get Chris on a path to healing instead of death. I told him he had the stomach flu and we would get through this and we still have the entire rest of our trip to enjoy. It was only Saturday. I was proud of myself because usually Chris is the one trying to talk me off of the ledge in life situations. I was pleased that in this scenario, I was able to be the strong one in the relationship.
Saturday morning, even though Chris was still in poor health, we got out of bed and were determined to walk a loop from the Fountain de Trevi to the Pantheon and then to the Spanish Steps and back to the hotel. The heat was beating down on us relentlessly. It was about 95 degrees, throw some humidity in there, and it is not a great situation for someone battling the stomach flu. We got to our second destination on accident since our map sucked (or maybe we sucked at reading our map), which was Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, a grand palace built in honor of the first King of United Italy.
This is where we were robbed.
Robbed, not in the sense that a bunch of Roman gypsies came and confused us and then stole money out of our pockets. NO, we are far too smart for that with our little touristy Eagle Creek passport money holder that you slyly hide under your shirt. Yes, we were carrying our money in that pouch so no one could steal from us. No one, that is, except for the guy who roped us into taking these stupid pictures with him and then telling us we owed him 50 Euro for them. “What???” I said in disbelief. “50 Euro? NO WAY!” I exclaimed.
In the meantime, Chris all sweaty and disoriented, had removed our cash from its safehouse and was unintentionally waving it about in the creepy Roman gladiators face. So the Roman gladiator grabbed 50 Euro from Chris. Chris told him to give it back so he did, but then he grabbed a couple of other bills from Chris as a swap. Pretty soon there were Euros flying between hands like a crazy magic show trick. I remember thinking, “oh God, this is not going to end well.”
In all the money exchanges back and forth, we lost 50 Euro. In the end, criminal Roman gladiator guy did get the 50 Euro he felt he deserved for 4 crappy cheezy pictures. Chris said he would delete the pictures off his camera if we could get our money back, but it was useless. The gladiator didn’t speak English and he knew he swindled us out of our money and wasn’t giving it back. Healthy Chris would have never let a thing like this transpire. The gladiator, without knowing it, had prayed on the sick and vulnerable. We took a 10-minute time out to stare at the Monument in front of us, and morn the loss of $70 before we moved on to the Pantheon.
The Pantheon is the most amazing place. Talk about feeling a religious experience being in these old churches. How that dome was built is a mystery to me. Sitting on a pew inside the church, everywhere your eyes turn there is something beautiful and wondrous to look at. Wondrous because you can’t help but imagine people like us but so different from us sitting in that same church hundreds of years ago looking at those same religious statues, chapels, tombs, paintings and frescoes adorning the walls. There is a circular open hole in the center of the dome called an oculus where light travels through and highlights different parts of the interiors of the Pantheon as the day progresses. During storms a drainage system underneath the oculus drains the rain out of the Pantheon. It is truly a beautiful architectural relic.
This is about when I began to feel sick. I felt that I may need to pass out inside the Pantheon. I turned and looked at Chris and I could tell that he felt the same way. I thought I was just tired but it turns out I was getting the stomach flu. Chris and I spent Saturday afternoon with stomachaches sleeping in our beds. Saturday night we ordered room service: two bowls of vegetable soup and two Sprites, which came to 50 Euros.
At this point I was miserable but still trying to keep Chris from mentally spiraling down a dark tunnel to death. When I woke up on Sunday, I felt nauseated and crappy and Chris was starting to feel better. It was Chris’ turn to bring me out of the depths of despair. I called my mom and told her how utterly unfair it is to look so forward to something for so long and then get sick once I am here. She said that at least I am in a beautiful room in a beautiful place without four kids climbing all over me. Her point was noted, and actually helped me from sliding into a I’m in Rome with the stomach flu depression. I started focusing on how lucky I am to be able to rest in peace in the impressively ornate antique bedroom I was in.
I took a “nap” that afternoon, which Chris clarified, was really a bona fide sleep more than it was just a nap. Four hours into my sleep I woke up feeling terrible. We had our first Takeda group dinner down in the hotel lobby in an hour. We had to get all dolled up and meet and greet and eat. I was in no mood to get dolled up, or meet, greet, and eat. Alcohol was certainly out of the question. I told Chris that he should just go to the party by himself and I will stay in bed. Chris asked me if I could maybe pretty please just try to get up and go so we could get our picture taken and say hi to a few people. I thought about this while I ordered myself a gigantic bowl of basmati rice from room service (20 Euro) to help sooth my stomach. It was disgusting. Here I was in the land of delicious pasta and I was eating a bowl of plain rice.
Because I love my husband, I got my butt out of bed, put my beautiful purple gown and sparkly way too high heels on and attempted to comb my hair into a respectable do. Miraculously, by the time we got down to the party, we were already feeling so much better. I began to wonder if being cooped up in the room wallowing in the mire was hindering our journey to good health. We filled our plates with minimal amounts of food for fear the bellyache may return. I even indulged in a half glass of champagne.
Chris and I came back to our room to find these lovely roses and a note about our special exclusive dinner we are attending at a palace Monday evening.
What I am choosing to take away from my couple days in Rome with a stomachache is that at least I lost a few pounds and had a good rest before I really begin gorging myself with pasta and wine.
Until next time, the Mothership is signing off.