nicole recently posted a lovely life list on her blog - things she wants to do in her lifetime. one of the items was "go sightseeing on a vespa" and she's already crossed it off her list! i was pretty excited to see that on her list because shawn & i did that once...
in october 2001, shawn & i went on our first trip to italy. within an hour of arriving and with roman holiday on the brain, we rented two scooters. we figured out our first stop and away we went. rome was experiencing a fall heat wave. it was hot, sunny and gorgeous. we were ready for an adventure. then shawn missed a turn and i realized that i was in possesion of all the maps, the phrasebook and a working knowledge of the italian language. shawn had his charm, good looks and no clue where he was heading or how to ask for directions. i came to a piazza near the turn he'd missed and waited, wondering how i was going to explain to his mom that i'd lost him within hours of arriving in italy. being the smart guy he is, he found me. i gave him a map, the phrasebook and away we went, again. with no destination in mind, we rode around the city, stopping for pictures every so often. we rode up one of the seven hills and stopped for our first gelato at a stand high above the city. this was exactly what we were hoping for. perfection. we decided to go to the spanish steps next. we planned our route and hopped on our scooters, happy as could be.
we came to a traffic octogon and i was cut off by a truck. we were separated and i was forced to turn. i snapped the picture above at the first stop light i came to. i was still happy. we found each other once, surely we'd be able to do it again. shawn had a map and the phrasebook. we had a destination. we could do it, right?
i would stop, look at the map and start again, only to find myself forced to reroute by one way streets, detours and blind panic. i asked for directions and although the route the polizia sent me on took me through the scariest tunnel i'd ever driven through i was much closer than i had been. the area around the spanish steps is tricky. many streets are closed to vehicles and it seems the rest were one way in the opposite direction. i was making my way through this maze when i came to a dead end. i stopped, looked both ways and began to pull out. a small silver car came out of nowhere and we t-boned. i flew forward hard on the scooter but the death grip i had on the handle bars prevented me from falling. my tire made contact with the car's tire. the driver stopped and started screaming at me in italian. the deer caught in headlights look must've given me away as an american because he started calling me a stupid american girl. i yelled back in italian and he was clearly taken by surprise. he was also taken aback when the carabinieri pulled up behind him. two officers jumped out of their car with their large guns and began yelling at him as well. they had seen the whole thing and were clear - it was him that was at fault for driving so recklessly. one office talked with the driver while the other spoke to me. did i need to go to the hospital? no, i was fine. was i sure? yes. was i american? how did i speak italian? could they do anything for me? i needed to find the spanish steps. could he direct me? yes but why did i want to go to the spanish steps? to meet my husband who was also lost. was i sure i wanted to go to the spanish steps? yes. wouldn't i rather go to dinner with him? no. no. spanish steps, grazie, prego... the very nice military police officer gave me perfect instrustions. i had arrived but how was i going to find shawn? it was very crowded and a couple of hours had passed. what was shawn even wearing?
somehow we found each other. we ran toward each other through the crowd. you'd think that would've been romantic but i'm pretty certain that we looked less romantic and more like two people finding each other in a disaster movie. disheveled and stressed out. but, we found each other.
shawn went through the same scary tunnel. he stopped and asked for help multiple times. except for the incident with the other driver, he'd had as harrowing an adventure as i. but we were together again. and we were going to return one scooter, immediately. too bad we killed our one remaining scooter the next day after a trip to the gas station. but that's a story for another day.
and if i could, i'd totally do it over again.