Rome is quite possibly my most favorite city on earth. Nowhere else have I seen a city with such a long and glorious history over countless ages, constantly falling and then renewing itself for yet another go at creating the most beautiful art and monuments anywhere, never resting on its laurels but always maintaining itself to this day as a living, vibrant modern city. To live in Rome is to live and breathe history and art to an extent that I will miss dearly. You really get used to it. I take it for granted that anytime I want I can take a ten-minute bus ride and see a Roman temple or a Renaissance church. It's a beautiful thing.
And of course I'll miss the people. Living in such close proximity to only 35 other people for four months is very intense and there was a lot of tension, no question of it, but even the people I didn't really like (or even occasionally despised) were part of the experience. And there is virtually zero chance we will ever be all of us together again. I'm sure I'll keep in touch with some, maybe even a lot of people, and even see some of them, but a Centro reunion? Maybe, but with a lot of people missing. I love my friends, but I also love the whole group; I'll see my friends again, but the group is gone forever.
I'm not sorry the work is over, although secretly I didn't mind it much. But the last 36 hours, between my last final and my flight, were really weird. My art history final ended at 4; by 4:15 I had already been to the wine store and back and was pouring white wine into a Nalgene bottle so I could drink more discreetly. I then proceeded to drink an entire bottle of wine in an hour, then tried valiantly to sober up enough to enjoy the farewell dinner that evening (didn't happen) and not make a fool of myself (we can hope), and to enjoy going out to a bar with everyone one last time (also didn't happen). I always come up with ideal scenarios for how things will work. They never come true. This time I imagined something like the scavenger hunt, which was the most fun I've ever had drunk - getting smashed in the company of friends, staying out late, and having a fabulous time. We went to a bar, all right, but I didn't drink anything, had a terrible time, and went home early. The next morning I felt like shit (my hangovers last forever), compounded by the fact that I had to pack and then wait around for them to check my room so I could get my security deposit back so I could finish my Christmas shopping. So I couldn't go out because I needed to back sure I could get the money before the stores closed. Add to that the fact that this was my last day in Rome and I had imagined spending it revisiting all my favorite places one last time with as many as possible of my closest friends. And to put the icing on the cake, almost everyone else was out doing something and so the Centro was dead and I was just sitting around on my last day in Rome. And then there was Julia - but that's a whole other issue. And so finally I went out for the last time, not with friends but rather totally alone. And so I watched the sunset (always something you want to enjoy with a friend, especially if your idealized vision contained a certain friend) and said good-bye to the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, the Forum, and so on. And I went back and ate my last Centro meal, and finally resolved the issue that had been hanging over my head of getting everyone's emails and AIM names, and did the last thing I wanted to do on my very last night in Rome. I went to a bar. What I wanted to do was go out to a café or a piazza somewhere with as many as possible of my very closest friends and just sit and talk and experienced Rome for the last time. I can go to a bar anywhere, but Rome is something else entirely. Everyone, including my friends, was going to a bar. So I went to a bar. At least it wasn't one of the ones we always go to, loud and smoky and crowded, but rather a nice place where conversation is possible. So that sucked for awhile, but at least after awhile everyone else went to another bar and a few of us who wanted to go home (a good group for me to spend the last night with) hung out there for awhile and then caught a bus back home. That made up for the rest of the night, I guess.
And then there was Julia, possibly the closest friend I made all semester. And that was not at all how I dreamed or expected or wanted it to end. Just call me Mr. Clingy. I have one bad experience with drifting away from a close friend who's really important to me, I get over my dependence on her, and I go and do it again. I should have seen it earlier. I should have realized that she was really not interested in watching the sunset with me from the top of the Spanish Steps. Too romantic an opportunity, I suppose, which I confess I wouldn't have minded although I would probably have regretted it later. Of course she needed to spend time with her boyfriend whom she was also leaving the next day. Of course she needed to go shopping with her girls one more time. I figured that out for myself, but why couldn't I have managed that a little earlier? How much time did we spend together in the last week, just the two of us, not necessarily out doing something but just sitting and talking in the lobby? It's ridiculous. I can't just go hanging off her arm like that. And it's not like I couldn't see it coming. I kept telling myself I had to take special care to spend time away from her and with the other friends I want to maintain. And yet I always gravitated back. I just hope I didn't alienate her too much. Goddammit. I didn't even get to apologize to her, or say any of the things I knew I needed to say, not only for this but just for general closure…there was no long, deep, meaningful hug, no private words to each other, just a quick hug going down the line in a bar somewhere and then she was gone. So I drank my martini, and then Susan commented that I drank it awfully fast and asked if it was Julia-related, since she knew she was my best friend there. It was actually more that I've had about two martinis in my life and didn't know how fast to drink it, but still I really appreciated her comment - I'm glad that someone pays enough attention to me to notice who my best friend is and how she said goodbye to me.
So all in all, I was really sad to leave Rome, but by the time I actually did, the last 36 hours had been pretty shitty and besides, I was already shifting gears into the being-home mindset, so I suddenly felt a little out of place (or just out of whack in general), and also not long ago I found out my housing for next quarter and starting thinking and dreaming about that a lot. It was good to get home, although now starts the next countdown, to Christmas in four days, which always feels to me the same "ok, c'mon, get it here and over with" feeling that I had on Thursday, so I make no guarantee things will improve. And I'm jet-lagged right now, which I wasn't expecting because I usually handle it very well, and the 800-pound gorilla hanging over my head is how many and which of the Centristi I'll manage to keep in good contact with (not just about Julia, but everyone), so I'm feeling both good and bad about everything all at the same time. Story of my lif