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A Cultural Affair

As I currently absorb the rays of sun, empirical Rome has so graciously given me today, most of my former fellow inhabitants from Mulberry to 85th and Madison, are shivering on yet another unforgiving, icy day of winter. I feel a slight tug of guilt, as if I'm cheating on Gotham City. But I can't dwell on these faint emotions of betrayal as I am drinking my caffè (leggi in Italiano)

Sometimes while writing or talking with family and friends, I like to take little jabs at New York City, but I can do that, I'm a New Yorker. We've all paid our dues to the Big Apple and to the journey getting there, and one of the perks is we have the privilege to make fun of it, and acknowledge some of it's obvious flaws.

I will give NYC, this after almost ten years of living there, I never for one moment became jaded with it or took it for granted. You know those times when you're riding in a cab on the FDR from the FiDi to UWS and you'd catch a glimpse of that enigmatic skyline. It's like when a breeze rolls off the Hudson River and catches the dress of a beautiful woman to reveal just a touch of her thigh. After all that time it still had the ability to snatch the breath from my lungs in an instant. Sure, going to a movie is gonna run you fifty bucks for you and your date, but a walk in Central Park afterwards to discuss it will cost you nothing. And yes, a cab ride to the Metropolitan Museum will hit up your wallet for thirty-seven dollars and change from what seems like almost everywhere, but the admission to get in is at your discretion thanks to a recommended donation, that also comes with an always colorful metal pin, that in my opinion never goes out of style. The rents, for our “royal shanties”, are phenomenally always rising and astronomical compared with the other 97% of the globe, but every event and parade the city offers, whether it's the St. Patty's, Macy's Thanksgiving, or the Mermaid parade of Coney Island, makes you feel like the lead part in a movie. You know you're a part of something very special.

As I currently absorb the rays of sun, empirical Rome has so graciously given me today, walking down Via Aureliana towards Via Flavia to a cafe that has the most “amaro” and delicious espresso in all Central Rome, most of my former fellow inhabitants from Mulberry to 85th and Madison, are shivering on yet another unforgiving, icy day during what seems like the neverending sleep of winter. My usual cameriere, Giovanni, brings me my caffe with a warm “Buongiorno” and an even brighter smile, I think: “Chin up friends, it won't last forever.”

Much like my old home, inner-voices of snide jealousy occasionally emerge as I am reminded I have to share this city too. I have to share her with groups of mindless tourist gazing in all the wrong directions, taking pictures of all the wrong things and eating at all the wrong places (hypocrisy is screaming, I know). Amongst the cheerful shoppe keepers, jovial doormen, and genuinely helpful pharmacists, who accentuate my day, I must also share Rome and its clementine lined streets with the sharply dressed businessman stomping down Via Barberini, pissed off at his tedious and time consuming out-of -town commute, his long hours and sad face; along with locals jaded by these historic, sense-tingling surroundings, to which they have somehow, become numb over time. The Spanish Steps and its panoramic views, the Quadraro and it's vibrant graffiti murals, Pigneto and its undiscovered bars and cafes, only aware to locals and a few handfuls in the know, the Brooklyn-esque feel of Monti, overflowing with fantastic bars and succulent restaurants, live music pouring out many of them, must be shared with all. But I know without all of these characters in each of these theatrical productions of life with these magnificent cities each their own unique stage, they wouldn't be as chosen and desired as they are.

While my mind settles in to a reflective and appreciative state, I feel a slight tug of guilt as I spend more time with just one of the beautiful Mediterranean metropolises I now call home, as if I'm cheating on Gotham City, taking for granted all she has taught me and all she has showed me. But I can't dwell on these faint emotions of betrayal as I happily indulge in my current cultural affair. Vediamo Dopo.

 

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