Taming the waters…

Rome. August 2004.  En route to an international conference in Bologna i managed to work in a day in Rome on my own.  Snagging a cheap hotel near the rail station, i dropped my luggage and ventured out for a day of sight seeing.  It was lovely… Walking, walking, walking.  Breathing in the sweaty, humidity-soaked air as i dodged scooters.  And tourists.  The overfed, newly-wed, nearly dead…

After seeing as much as i could during the day, i still wanted to wander a bit, but had been counseled by the hotel clerk that it was ill-advised for me to go out at night on my own.  i hooked up with an evening tour.  St. Peter’s, The Vatican… and the Trevi fountain.  The legendary fountain of wishes…

Off on my own to think a little, i took the fable to heart.  Modern legend is that it is lucky to throw three coins with one’s right hand over one’s left shoulder into the Trevi Fountain.  But what to wish for?  The theme of the sculpture is “taming of the waters”.  My waters definitely needed some taming…

At the time, i was still married.  My husband had mostly relocated to our vacation home three hours to the north, and i was in effect a single parent of two teenaged children.  Feeling trapped.  Knowing my children would leave home soon.  Aching for a fresh start.  Sitting at the edge of the fountain, three coins in hand, i tried my damndest to conjure a meaningful wish.  Asking myself the deceptively simple question “What do i want?”

The only thing that came to mind was a single word.  “Out”.  And so i wished…  “Out” [Plunk].  “Out” [Plunk].  “Out” [Plunk].

Fast forward five years.  i’m out.  Generally very happy, enjoying life.  Looking forward to the future.  But it’s time to ask that question again… “What do i want?”  A fuzzy vision has started to form… it involves a collision of my professional and personal life.  Some financial planning.  My retirement in the works – eight years and nine days from this moment.  

Changing jobs was a step in the right direction.  Helping Mom get settled in a stable care-giving situation is also part of it… A few days wandering the streets of Washington, DC this week – where i lived for a year – added more substance to the vision.  It’s starting to jellify.

But it was the long conversation with an old friend*, while we killed a bottle of delicious French Pinot Noir by an outdoor fountain that helped thicken the vision for “what’s next”.  Almost actionable.  i’m thinking a trip back to Rome may be in my future…

plunk.  plunk.  plunk....

plunk. plunk. plunk....

* Thank you, MS.  And so very sorry for the “inconsequential” misfire….

21 thoughts on “Taming the waters…

  1. I love it…”out, out, out”..such a simple word with so much meaning toward your situation. ( is this your second wish fulfilled–new job)
    I look forward to seeing Syria in about 7 weeks..Hubby and I are also on a self-imposed journey to define our future. So much thought is on hold until after the journey..then there will be so many conversations and planning to begin. It’s hard to wait to see what our answer will be..

  2. I remember a teacher once telling me it is sometimes more important to know what you don’t want. Of course, manifesting a little pile of bullion and a mansion in the Algarve would be cool too.

  3. hisqueen – good luck on your journeys, both geographical and metaphorical! adventure awaits, no doubt!

    silverstar – i shall do so! with pictures!

    dolce – Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. i needed ‘out’ more than i needed cold hard cash. Now? i’d consider that option. yes, knowing what you DON’T want is important. but the process of elimination can take awhile…

    alex – part of the conversation was about those moments, seemingly inconsequential, that ultimately alter the course of your life. failing to return a phone call, not being in the mood to fix a broken situation… and how we never know what those moments are until much, much later. sometimes years….

    nursemyra – hmmmm….. you, me, Italy? 3-4 weeks of good fun and trouble! rome is a good starting point, but i’d like to see more of italy… perhaps a little cottage in tuscany?

    Bb – you trying to get back to canada?!?!?

    unbearable banishment – it’s a skill i’ve learned late in life. my early years, and much of where i’ve landed personally and professionally, has been an unchoreographed improvisational dance. i’ve been exceedlingly lucky along the way, no doubt. but the clock ticks. maybe 25 more years of balls-out activity ahead of me. if i continue to be lucky. a little advance planning is definitely in order. goal? no regrets when i die….

  4. I threw whole handfuls of coins into the Trevi Fountain. Hasn’t helped, ten years on, still waiting for a chance to go back.

  5. “Out” is such a small word, but with limitless possibilities. I think “What do I want” is probably one of the most difficult questions we can ask ourselves. It takes a lot more courage than I realized, but the journey of soul searching is usually well worth the agony of analysis. Great to hear you’re outing yourself! 🙂

  6. It’s out of print, but if you can find Alan Laikin’s book “How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life” He posits that most of us don’t think in big enough segments of time…that we should regularly consider our five-year plan. Anyway, it’s great!

  7. You’re doing things the right way – a little plan, a little plunk. And if you get that cottage with nursemyra? I’m coming for a weekend.

  8. A cottage in Tuscany? Sold – I’m in!!!!!

    Actually, I don’t really want to go to Rome again, last time I was there was with Stephen. Think it would make me too sad to return. But Tuscany….. yes yes yes. Maybe we could rent a biggish place with a couple of other bloggers too….?

    But you know I’m always up for a holiday with just you sista!

  9. Sassy P – apparently they collect 3,000 Euro from the fountain daily to support a foodbank. There was goodness in that handful afterall!

    rassles – you have described my dream retirement. and with last minute airfare deals being sometimes OBSCENELY cheap? that’s the plan!

    tNb – “what do i want?” and “what do i need?”. tough questions. gave it lots of thought via a book called “Appetites” by Caroline Knapp a few years back, and started making a conscious effort to think about this sometimes – guilt free. we’re raised to NOT think about our own wants and needs… odd that we have to actively pursue it.

    nana – welcome to the park! i’ll root for the book as i build my summer reading pile… but i completely agree – we overestimate our daily abilities and underestimate everything else. looking at big chunks of life is more powerful!

    uncle keith – They were impressed with my pronunciation when i arrived at the train station in Rome “Can-a i get-a one-a ticket-a to-a Baloney-a?” i am a cunning linguist!

    pickles – plan and plunk. both in moderation. mix liberally with alcohol, laughter and a naieve willingness to always trust my gut? god knows where the fuck i’ll be in five more years!

    nursemyra – deal! my pal pickles will be just up the road in germany, so we’ll need to abduct her for sure. love the idea of tuscany… not wild about going back to rome, so that’s cool! yay! June/July 2010? Here we come!

  10. nursemyra – just about 12 months. that’s only 365 sleeps!

    hereinfranklin – i want to see more of italy. just seems like an amazing place to be, and i’ve barely scraped the surface!

    rob – thank you!

  11. Pingback: Rafting the River « Trailer Park Refugee

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