A Day in Rome
By Rebecca Olivia Jones
We arrive by taxi at our pensione in Rome. The taxi driver had been blowing his nose but he was helpful with the luggage.
We check in at the front kiosk of what had been a convent. A couple of nuns assign us a room with two single beds. We are informed of a continental breakfast in the kitchen 6:00 am-8:00 am and the rules that include making your bed each day and leaving the building by 9:00. Be back before 10:00 pm when the front door is locked.
The pensione is located up the street from the Forum, across the cobblestone street from an ancient church with a Gothic bell tower and near a tiny restaurante that makes fresh pasta.
For two days we hike the hills and ruins of Rome and taste divine piatti and gelato.
The third day, my nose, lungs, and throat blow up with a bad cold. We are flying back home to California the following day, so it is decided that I break the rules and stay in my tiny bed.
My partner supplies me with rough tissues, medicinal tasting cough drops, and apple juice and leaves for his day of adventure.
I lie with the large window open and aurally tour our little street of Rome. I hear all kinds of shoes clip and clop on the cobblestones.
I listen to languages that seem to include Italian dialects, Australian English, French, German and Japanese, even dog bark.
Around noon I sniff garlic and onions and tart tomato. I visualize the sizzle of sautéed delicate white pesce and tangy radicchio.
I am too sick to long for a glass of vino rosso but a mug of soothing peppermint tea with honey would be nice.
I am drowsy when the tonal power of a pipe organ resounds from the church across the street. It continues with the harmonies of a Bach prelude, then a delicate Vivaldi cantata and goes on to classic renditions of hymns, some familiar to me.
I am lifted off my feverish mattress by the vibrations of the glorious music.
I am ready to enter heaven.
As the concert concludes, two nuns walk into my room, as surprised with my presence as I am of theirs. Through universal sign language, “no” and “si,” they ask if they can get me anything.
I croak “grazie” and decline, embarrassed at being caught still “a casa.”
They kindly leave me alone. (I am relieved my partner had made his bed.)
Soon, he brings me a takeout bowl of salty minestrone and chewy panne rustica. He fills the room with excited energy, blows me a kiss and takes off for parts unknown. Finally, my belly and heart full, I drift off to sleep.
A warm breeze dries my forehead. The sounds of wandering tourists fade.
The memory of my divine private organ concert in Rome remains.
Rebecca Olivia Jones is a playwright, singer, dancer, composer, choreographer, director, always a poet. In 2021, Rebecca collected her poetry and lyrics, accompanied by beautiful photography into a memoir, “Beachsight,” available on blurb.com.
Rebecca has a B.A. in Creative Writing from New College of California. Also, a mother, grandmother, sister, and a seeker, she lives in San Rafael with her long-time boyfriend and their cat; teaching singing lessons via zoom; enjoying hiking, gardening, cooking, reading, and writing. She is an advocate for the Alzheimer’s Association.