Our last week was busy with midterms, lectures, essays,and last minute airbnb bookings. The weather seemed to agree with the dread of the week, providing us with overcast clouds and rain. I finally succumbed into buying a 5 euro umbrella from the tiger near the palazzo, but it was both a point of pride, stubbornness, and optimism in my refusal to admit that spring in Rome wasn’t the Mediterranean paradise I had once thought. That being said by Friday, the sun was out, and my skin was feeling warm.
I had gone around the city centre with my friends looking for vintage stores, and one in particular stood out to me. As we enter the store, we are immediately hit with a waft of cigarette smoke, and hazy dust giving form to the rays of light peeking through the hanging garments. In the middle of the space, in between racks of clothes, perched 4 old men talking in low voices. It was a kind of beautiful, smelly meeting of these garmentiers who were curt, gruff, and probably like any other old italian men. All of their clothes reeked of their smoke filled conversations, and it definitely gave them identifiable character (whether this was an enjoyable one is another matter). I purchased a black cashmere turtleneck, and was scolded for crumpling it up in my hand. The titular patriarch of the store was shaking his head, but then caught a glimpse of my wallet and his face lightened up and he asked to see it, saying it was the perfect size for storage, and that he had never seen a wallet so fitted for both utility and aesthetic. I was surprised, but pleased to hear because I have never conceived of my wallet being anything more than just a simple and functional object, but I could tell it rang a special cord with him. He showed me his own wallet and allowed me to glance through it. And so I left the store with a cashmere sweater (to be later washed at home, that is, HAND WASHED) and a 60 year old friend.
I am currently writing this on a train heading to Milan (and later Cinque Terre ) for my spring break, and I am filled with the simultaneous excitement and premature nostalgia that accompanies any wonderful adventure, and I wish all my fellow students fun and safe travels!