Once every four years I get to watch men and women run, swim, jump, fly. Once every four years, for two weeks, I am satiated, riveted. Sure, the winter games are on as well, but it’s the sweat and heat that brings me down. The States tried to take it from me, my once-every-four-years ice cream cone. In America all that matters is ratings. Which network wins which prize and how much money they can make from it. For one week I sat in the dungeon of NBC coverage while finishing my too-long-stay back from where I came. Coverage which showed almost exclusively American athletes, ridiculous ratings driven “home stories,” and worst of all simply 3 hours a night after all the results were already in and covered in the preceding news program.
So imagine my delight when finally returning to my home in Rome to find full 24 hour coverage, LIVE! It’s Sunday and I am finally lifting my head from the screen. Thank you, Rome. It feels so good to be home.
As my sojourn in the states comes to an end and Italy looms closer every day, I find myself reflecting on all I will miss and the things I most certainly won’t.
Things I will miss:
Endless hot showers in wintertime.
Heated cafés and restaurants in wintertime.
Considerate drivers (at least here in LA).
Enormous playgrounds in which to watch your child run free and have a ball.
Progressive education options.
Opening night movies.
Barnes and Noble, where I happily can spend an entire afternoon.
The ability to see a doctor in August.
Internet plans that let you just keep having internet without it running out at random times.
Stores that stay open all day.
New York. New York. New York.
The things I can do without:
Pundits. I watched someone on the news the other day speculating on a speculation made by someone speculating on an original speculation.
The continuing, embarrassing war on women.
Outrageous school fees and a failing public system for those who cannot afford it.
Oversized meals. (Unless of course it’s Mexican food.)
Yesterday, I went to Korea.
I soaked in soft mineral baths and steamed out a week’s worth of wine before following a tiny Korean woman into a wet room where I was placed on a table and for an hour and a half bathed.
At first she scrubbed my skin with what felt like sandpaper, but there was no pain, just the feeling of my pores crying out in ecstasy.
As the steam from the constant running water enveloped us, she took buckets of hot wet towels and used them to rock me back and forth so that I began to feel like a ship lost in a storm, but firmly and wonderfully attached to the waves. Then she took a hose and water poured out on me like honey, and when I didn’t think it could get any better she put watermelon oil all over me and rubbed my aching muscles until I started to melt into the table and truly move like liquid, all while fighting the urge to eat myself. Wrapping me back up in hot wet towels, she covered my face with ice cold cucumbers while deeply kneading my head and then washed and conditioned my hair, which is an incredibly vulnerable feeling that I cannot wait to feel again. When it was all over she sat me up and rinsed my whole body in warm milk.
The great epics of Homer continually talk of kings and queens being bathed. I cannot seem to turn a page without someone being undressed, cleansed with giving hands, and anointed with oil. Not just a custom, but a gift given to those both at home and weary travelers in need of a place to rest.
Not everyone left this incredible experience in antiquity. Korea, China, Hungary, and more still practice this art daily. Imagine the world if we all had to be that intimate with each other. If we had to completely release into another’s hand.
I miss traveling. It’s so nice to know that there are hidden pockets of foreign cultures right around the corner just waiting to be found.