Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Imports and Exports

Do you know what I have been fantasizing about for the past 3 weeks (ever since this little adventure novel we're living took an abrupt and fascinating twist toward home)?

Super Target.

No but seriously, there's more to life in American than vapid consumerism, and I know that now. And there's more to life here in bella Roma than sipping cappuccinos and taking in the sights (and smells) of a summer in full swing. But all things considered, I'll gladly swap one for the other.

I have been so blessed during this time here in Rome. And as I may have mentioned here once or twenty-seven times before, I've also been challenged and stretched and tested beyond my level of comfort. As I sit and type this, the shades drawn and the AC cranked against July's last stand, I'm still being tested. Because I just said goodbye to my cleaning lady for the last time and I'm really, really going to miss her. And not just because she does my dishes for me once a week. Okay, mostly for that. But she is also a huge sweetheart. And deep cleans my entire house in 2 hours for only 20 Euros.

That, my friends, is a luxury that I never knew I was missing out on. And one I've actually come to rely on quite a bit. And even though it is, for some reason, far more humbling and feels much more ostentations to admit "I have housecleaning help" than "I hired a babysitter for the morning," I think it's one Euro-luxury that I'm going to try my darndest to replicate, Stateside. Because while I am uniquely qualified to take care of my own children (not that I am opposed to a night off now and then. Hell no I'm not), anyone can clean my bathroom...and I'm happy to pay them to do it, if the budget permits.

Another thing I'm refusing to settle for upon our repatriation? Bad coffee. And you know what qualifies as bad coffee? Anything that you can't drink black, or with a bit of sugar. And if you have to pump flavor of some sort into it to help it go down? Fail. So yes, basically, I've become a huge coffee snob. Espresso for me, or a double cappuccino if the weather permits. Starbucks, we had a good run, but my forays back into your arms during our air-capades last month showed me the light: you don't taste that great.

I'll still be lining up for my annual first-of-Fall pumpkin spice latte, though. Because I still have a heart.

Finally, I'm really going to miss our beautiful church ... and the roughly 803 other beautiful churches around the city. This one in particular:

But all the rest of them, too. It's a beautiful thing to be able to stumble into the most beautiful church you've ever seen, just because you took a slightly different way home from the grocery store. But it's also a really beautiful thing to be able to drive to the grocery store. And to have it not be the size of a Circle K. So.

Italy, you've been good to us. Hard, but good. I'll miss the friends we've made, the espresso habit I've developed, and the subconscious hope that anytime I'm walking near Vatican City, I might stumble across Papa Francesco out for a surprise and unexpected public appearance. But I'm ready.

I'm ready to come home.


  1. I went from not drinking coffee at all to being a coffee snob after I lived over there! Starbucks is awful and I really miss Italian coffee.

    When I was getting ready to come back home, I started posting about all the things I'd miss -- partly to remind myself in those last few days when I was so antsy to come home.

    It's hard to believe that anyone would be antsy to leave that place, but I completely understand, Jenny!

    Although I'm really craving nocciola gelato right now.

  2. I've always loved coffee--you name it, I'll drink it: Dunkin', Starbucks, and even the Folger's or Maxwell House stuff I brew right at home. I always used to think espresso cappuccino were way too strong. But in the past two years I've accompanied my pilot husband on five of his working trips to Europe, and it ruined me a little for American coffee. (I mean, I still drink it--but it's just that now I know how much better coffee can taste!)

    I've had coffee in Nice, Amsterdam, Athens, and Barcelona, and it's all been wonderful (especially the cafe au lait in France). My husband used to fly to Rome all the time, but he hasn't been able to get any trips there lately. I'm hoping one of these days he does and I'll be able to tag along and get me some Italian coffee. :)

  3. My husband starting roasting his own coffee beans some years ago and now I've become a coffee snob right along with him. He roasts every other morning. (And he makes the most amazing cappuccinos on the weekend.) There's seriously nothing like coffee brewed from beans still warm from having JUST been roasted. If you can't find acceptable coffee stateside, you might want to consider doing the same. (And we could point you to some good roasters/raw bean vendors.)

  4. I have given up and hired cleaning ladies- it is so worth it!

    Congratulations on the new job!

  5. Re: super targets, choices of where to shop, etc, it made me feel more appreciative of the free market when I got back from Rome... Not trying to glamorize consumerism, but competition is good when held within standards!

  6. I've found I have very strong feelings about bread and butter after leaving Ireland- as well as how much they should cost. Hence, I am now baking my own bread. Also, my number 1 international move tip is embrace both Amazon and WalMart home delivery if at all possible. It was really, really nice to come home to find toilet paper and dish soap waiting for me rather than schlepping to the store with 3 jetlagged children for such essentials.

  7. A cleaning lady truly sounds amazing! Although I really think I'd like to hire someone to make dinner. Or come over to watch the toddler {who insists on standing right under my feet in the kitchen} while I cook.

    Good luck with the move back! I'm so excited for you guys to be all settled in and near family again before baby #3 arrives!

  8. I feel shallow, this being my first comment and all (I really enjoy your blog!) but please do share if you have a solution to the coffee problem. Having spent a semester abroad TWELVE YEARS AGO and loving a good cup of coffee as I do, I would love input on this subject!


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