So today the boys go with mom and Dad to the coliseum tour. Nicole and I stay home to pack. Ourselves and mom and Dad. Well. More of a “let’s shove this stuff in bags and see how much weight we have left for more leather” marathon. We do that until 10 am. And then we realize that we can leave. All alone. With no plans. Or people. Just two muppets in the wind. (If you say that with wonder in your voice and your hands stretched out in a sweeping motion it’s super effective).
We hardly know what to do with ourselves. Except we also know exactly what to do with ourselves. First we start by having last nights left over pasta and beer for breakfast which includes the usual nicole and Karen special of me making some stupid comment and Nicole spitting beer all over the table laughing. Then we suit up and leave. Beers and wine in tow. I have backpack duty today.
First we walk to the Vatican area…. no wait…. first we sync our waddles. Nic and I waddle like professional super-ducks. And if we happen to start out on opposite feet we could have a disaster on our hands. Once we waddled in to each other so violently during a vacation in Greece that I almost knocked Nicole out. Now we know better, and we sync our waddles every time we have to walk next to each other.
So, Rome waddles synced-we are
On our way.
We quickly realize that we are alone and no longer a gang of muppets. The worst thing about this is when we try to cross the street. Rome, as mentioned earlier, is super busy, and we want to be right next to the water, as usual. So we have to cross a lot of streets to get there-and we have no boys to push their way out-or old people to walk behind for the “respect your elders” street crossing pass. What to do. What to do. So we decide to follow a leggy dark haired woman who looks like she was born to walk these streets in her amazingly cool outfit and boots. Problem is, as I mentioned, she’s leggy. This is something nicole and I will never be mistaken for. Never. Ever. Ever. Chesty-oh yes. Mouthy-Definitely. Handsy-often. Leggy? Not so much.
So we are taking 3 steps to her every one. Following her like we’re trying to be friends. Looking like miniature Yorkies chasing a horse. Our little legs furiously working, underboob sweat staining our shirts and hair getting frizzier by the second-we both look like Richard Simmons after a particularly heavy “sweating with the oldies” session. Trying to look like we do this half walk half run thing all the time ….while she strolls around looking impossibly bored with this entire day.
It doesn’t help that I keep thinking I hear gary’s famous travel whistle, and stop dead where ever I am like a golden retriever being called by its master, twitching my head with a confused “GARY NEEDS ME?” look in my puppy eyes.
We finally reach the water and I don’t want to be friends with this chick anymore. She continues on to ruin the confidence of other short women while we stop to catch our breath and tell each other we’re good girls and pretty.
We sit along the bridge, watching the city go by, and drink a beer, a little freaked out that we don’t have to divide it out between a whole stagger of muppets. (This the technical term for a group of travel muppets-a stagger of muppets).
After our beer we start to talk about what we want to do for the rest of our MOD time (muppets off duty). We’ll shop, walk…….and I say….”we could have a nice sit down lunch”…… and both of our eyes widen. OMG WE COULD GO FOR LUNCH!!!!!!!! I’m not sure why we didn’t think of this until now!!! It’s hard with 6 people to do a sit down lunch. It takes up a ton of time, it’s hard to find a nice place that seats 6 with a great view, and it costs a lot. So we usually grab beer and pizza while we walk. But-it’s just us. And the thought of a sit down lunch outside on this beautiful day makes us both so excited that we practically squeal. We pick Piazza Navona for our lunch spot and walk straight there. We find the perfect table, directly in front of the fountain, with a great acoustic guitar player out front. It’s spectacular. We have hands down the best pasta of the trip, and a bottle of wine, and giggle with delight as the guitar player serenades us with Volare and then starts old school police and sting-my favorite. This is unreal. Me and my best friend/sister in Rome having lunch in the Piazza Navona, all the stars coming together to give us the best lunch date of our lives. And unlimited parmesan cheese. I mean COME ON.
After our lunch we search out the perfect place for dinner tonight. It’s our last night in Italy, and we want it to be perfect for Gonzo and Camilla. So we pick a little spot at the Pantheon with the perfect view and decide to come back at dusk to see it light up while we eat.
We get the text from the boys that they are home from their tour and have put Camilla and Gonzo down for their naps. We decide that this is the perfect time to have one more glass of wine before MOD day ends. So we sit at the fountain in front of the pantheon and open the 375 ml bottle of Verranzano we overpaid for in Chianti and brought just for today. I am going to do this with my sister for the rest of my life. I promise. We have very different lives with very different partners doing very different things. But we share exactly the same brain. It’s creepy sometimes. And often I’m thinking of something, and, without a doubt, I know that she is having the exact same thought process. We can start at talking about pasta and at the same time make the same comment about ABBA for no reason other then that our brains jumped to exactly the same random place at exactly the same time. Sometimes she starts a sentence as we walk by someone with “sometimes…” and before she gets the next word out I say “yes. Exactly” and we know that we were both thinking that that person reminds us of our 10th grade lit teacher and how bad we feel for how unattractive he was which was a shame because he was brilliant but was never happy in love because he just wasn’t good looking enough for his brain.
This is how I know that as we sit here we are both picturing ourselves in 20 years. Doing the exact same thing. Together. It’s been an Amazing day. Wouldn’t trade it for the world.
After our wine we make our way home. We’re kind of missing the other muppets. And I’ve bought gary a gigantic “cats of Rome” calendar I cant wait to give him, and Chris a nice marble piece that says that “nothing is impossible when hard work is done” in Italian. Fits him to a tee.
We arrive and find basically everyone in bed! It was a lot of walking in a hot day for everyone. Once everyone gets up and we all meet on the deck Mom and Dad tell us that this may be their favorite day in Italy also! They absolutely LOVED their tour of old Rome and the coliseum. Their tour guide was amazing and really brought it to life and they are abuzz with the history and sights. I love that they had a great day also. They ask Nicole and I hoe our day was….. we both say “it was okay…..” at the same time-of course. Let’s not burst their bubble.
We leave once everyone is rested up and start walking. All over the city. Rome is such a walkable city with history quietly screaming at you in every square. We shop and stroll. Eventually we end up at our restaurant and a quick word with the man out front and he tells us to be back for 6:30 and he will have the perfect table for the 6 of us with the perfect view of the pantheon (which Dad keeps getting mixed up with the Parthenon-until gary teaches him to remember it by thinking “panty on”…… awkward.)
Dinner is amazing and we watch the panty on light up and listen to the music-the exact Same man as Nicole and I listened to at lunch is now here! He serenades us in the square and we eat bruschetta and pasta and drink wine and laugh. The perfect end to this epic 50th anniversary trip.
We walk home slowly and eat gelato one last time. Happy and sad all at the same time.
Italy is giving us the perfect night. 23 degrees and buzzing yet quiet. It’s all ours. I have a moment of deja vu, remembering walking through the Italian pavilion at Epcot center in Disney when I was 7. Walking behind a younger Gonzo and Camilla. The two holding hands and just as thankful for life and as in love as they are now. But now it’s 33 years later and we’re really here. And the tables have turned. Instead of nicole and I being taken on a vacation without a care in the world, we’ve given that to them I think. What a feeling. I swallow hard to try and clear the lump. But it doesn’t work. I struggle trying to hide Tears that stream down my face. And I look at nicole and say “sometimes…” and she says “yup”. Tears in her eyes too.
Home for one last night cap in club Muppetto. We reflect on the trip. Glad we did it and hoping mom and Dad had a great time-assuring each other they did. How do you thank your parents for loving you? And each other? And creating women who are brave and strong willed and independent and thinkers? And instilling a love of the earth and a desire to travel? You drag them half way around the world. That’s how.

Then we plan our next trip. This is what the muppets do on the last day of each trip. Then we decide that we are not looking forward to tomorrow’s travel journey. Chris and I are defiantly getting sick-a cold. Perfect. But we decide that we will meet at the muppet sky bar for a drink over Iceland. And that makes things feel better. Bed and dead. It was a long and amazing day.
Until next time Italy.