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October 2017
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This 'n That
by Anne Vargas

Never say never... “The only aspect of travel that is interesting to others is disaster.”

Anne Vargas
Anne Vargas

This saga doesn't exactly qualify as disaster but it does qualify as pragmatism. It is not a travel tale extoling the beauty of the places we visited, the extraordinary things we saw, the restaurants we enjoyed or suggestions for other travelers; you can read any number of excellent guide books for that. This is a tale of realization; realization that the calendar is creeping and things have changed, at least for me.

We recently had occasion to be wandering around in Rome for a week. In August. I had expected it to be hot and humid (which is definitely NOT my thing!) so I tried to prepare myself with the proper clothing, shoes, accouterments and attitude. It didn't work. I just don't “do” temperatures hovering in the high 90s and humidity in the gazillions. I was miserable. I suspect my spouse was, too, because he had to put up with the whining. He bribed me (successfully) to keep me going with limitless promises of Gelato.

scarf

I had prudently purchased and packed three hats, all supposedly guaranteed to keep my head dry and cool. None of them did. I had also purchased a scarf filled with special crystals that you soak in water and then tie around your neck to keep your body temperature down. It did help and I re-soaked it every time we came to one of the many fountains of running water in Rome. But I was still miserable.

We spent a lot of time in churches; lingering long at every one we entered, and there are a lot of them in Rome. My husband loved the art and I loved the opportunity to sit down out of the sun. It became a point of fascination to me that no one else seemed to be bothered to the extent that I was; my spouse agreed that it was hot but claimed it wasn't that bad.

I started carefully observing the hordes of other tourists; they were perspiring but I was dripping. My clothes were sticking to me, my drooping hair was plastered to my face, my mascara was running and I kept mopping myself with a towel. The only people who appeared to be even remotely as uncomfortable looked as if they might be from Scandinavian countries. My heritage is Northern European; was there a correlation?

shoes

Not only that, I seemed to be in a sea of women wearing chic, stylish sandals of every kind, even heels and flipflops. Rome is full of cobblestones. I found myself muttering: “What are they thinking? How can they possibly walk in those? How foolish...don't they know they will have serious back issues someday?” Abruptly I heard the voice of my elderly, somewhat crotchety, perpetually negative maiden aunt who always said things like that. OMG, I had turned into her!

There was a chapter in my life when, even as a tourist, I cared about my appearance. In fact, buried somewhere in our boxes of disorganized photos is one of me standing in St. Peters' Square, wearing a cute little outfit and even cuter coordinating shoes, shoes that had a little heel.

That was a long time ago. On this trip, I wore the same outfit every day (lightweight cotton/linen blend in a dark color) and wonderfully comfortable, cushioned shoes that carried me through the streets of Rome with nary a blister or any discomfort. They were perfect for my bunion feet, my rebuilt knees and my slippeddisk back issues. But they are not attractive. You might say they are ugly. I was not fashionable. And I didn't care which is, I suppose another indication of a creeping calendar. Or, as I prefer to think, of good sense.

slipper

I do not work for Skechers, nor do I own any stock in the company, but I can irrefutably rave about their Go Walk shoe ... for me, anyway. It made the journey possible.

I'm not sure there will be another trip to Rome. I am so fortunate that I have had several opportunities to be there over the years and very thankful for this last chance to see it again. But things change, and I have changed, too and that calendar creeps. Then again, I just heard my husband say something about one more trip next year so who knows. I'll keep the shoes handy.