There are so many things that I don’t: STEM stuff in general tops the list and although I truly wish to know more about science and technology, I fear that ship has sailed, that horse is out of the barn. I have a fair amount of hands on experience, especially of the natural science kind, but back in the days of my formal education I was your basic liberal arts learner. I guess that is still pretty much true, although in the last few years I’ve taken to reading a lot of books about great expeditions and scientific explorations as well as literature about plagues and germs. Fascinating stuff. While language and arts remain my strong suits, here in Rome I am completely overwhelmed by the magnitude and far too short on time and attention to understand a fraction of what this eternal city has to offer.
Today I was riding the bus to pick up Arleigh- Abby had dropped her off early so it was the first time I was alone. It was the first time I wasn’t scrounging around for dropped items, capturing a rolling stroller or scouting for the hand sanitizer. I was able to take a close and attentive look at our immediate neighborhood, which houses among other things, the Archbasilica of Rome, ( Santissimo Salvatore e Santi Giovanni Battista ed Evangelista in Laterano) Most of us think of St. Peter’s as the be all and end all, but in actual fact the Basilica of St. John Lateran sort of has it hands down as the mother church of the Catholics. This is a church that has more inner beauty; beyond the front portico it’s kind of drab and block-y. It is enormous, I’ll give it that. And it is the oldest public church in Rome.
I am quite certain that when it comes to acquiring religion, that ship has also sailed for me. I don’t understand much about Catholicism, beyond the obvious and what you pick up going to episcopal churches off and on, sort of “Catholic light.” There are a lot of nuns around here. I think Lent, which starts tomorrow, is a pretty big deal here, following on the heels of Carnevale (think Fat Tuesday and paczki). On the other hand, when it comes to faith, I’m still a work in progress and being in this particular city can’t help but make me ponder that part of humanity that is more than dust to dust. I went so far as to look up the schedule for pope sightings and this coming Sunday is a good possibility. I very much like the current pope and I think a child with the name Arleigh Francis deserves a glimpse. Especially since she was so impressed with the Pantheon. She’s still talking about the open hole in the ceiling and the grandma holding the baby (an enormous statue of Mother and Child but I appreciate her perspective.)
(she was trying to get me to understand that she would like to trade in the stroller for this Hello Kitty scooter.)
Arleigh is very reflective for a two year old and for the most part takes things she doesn’t comprehend in stride, including the work of acclimating to a new school where no one really speaks much English (or Russian) other than her primary teacher. Quite comically, several times a day she’ll come up to me and say very earnestly, “AMA! glopityoianknf gjoskah daklghmns ncuipwncoim! Poop! djinosnmps qwuryeo! I want raisins!” It’s not all light-hearted though; as we got off the bus at our stop today she teared up and said, “No Rome Home! HOME!” I understood that quite clearly.