Yesterday, I talked on the phone with Katie after being away from each other for 10 days. I didn’t know how much I missed sharing every mundane detail of my life with her, and I ended up getting really sentimental. So I’m going to get sappy here for a minute and write a tribute to my first and most frequent travel buddy.
Katie and I met back in 2008, when we studied abroad for a summer in Rome with the University of New Mexico. We were Roman roommates, and we shared this gem of a room.
Please note how
thick and comfortable thin and ridiculously uncomfortable the mattresses look. Now, we were told by the study abroad office that our apartments would be air conditioned… that was a lie. A terrible, terrible lie. So it was sweltering hot with no airflow for our first few nights in Rome, which meant we got no sleep. Katie is REALLY fun to be around when she doesn’t sleep (lots of sarcasm in that sentence). Due to the heat, we left the windows wide open so we wouldn’t melt like those corpses you see on crime shows (yes, I had to take it to a dark place), and I ended up getting a million bug bites. I wish I were exaggerating, but I’m really not. One other girl in our program said, “I’m not trying to be mean, but you look like you have the plague.” Have I mentioned how pleasant I am to be around when I’m itchy and apparently dying of the plague? It’s a miracle we didn’t kill each other, but really I think we bonded over our joint misery. Eventually we got a fan, learned to cover our bodies in wet towels, and I wore nasty smelling bug spray 24/7, but I can’t say that we ever really got a good nights sleep.
The good news was, we were in Rome studying both Ancient and Renaissance art, so really, despite all the sleepless nights, I can’t complain. Plus I got a really great friend out of it.
We went through so many things that summer. Me being upset because someone in our program made fun of my glasses (this person also wore glasses… it still makes no sense to me). An Italian guy coming up to me in a club, humping my leg in time to the music, and then saying, “You liiiiike?” No, I really didn’t like. A really creepy ride home on a night bus that we really don’t like to talk about.
I’m making it sound like it was all horrible, but it really wasn’t. We went to a million churches, saw some of the worlds best art and architecture, went into a private exhibit at the Vatican, and walked around on ancient roads. We ate so much gelato, had the best pizza in Naples, and had the best bean soup 3 times a week, for free. We danced around our apartment to Italian MTV, I drank a lot of wine, Katie drank a lot of Coca-Cola (at least that hasn’t changed).
The below picture still makes me very angry. As you can see, the shoe on my left foot is broken, and Katie is laughing hysterically. These are my favorite shoes. When I got home, I glued them back together after a very mean cobbler told me it wasn’t worth it to fix them. I still wear them often, in fact, I wore them to a wedding this weekend, where the bottom may or may not have come unglued again. ANYWAY. The shoe broke. I was devastated, and had to walk up a street that we had dubbed ‘Piss Street’ without a shoe on. It was really one of the most traumatizing experiences of my life (I’m very sheltered).
These experiences, and Rome, changed us. We both agree that Rome is the bug that bit us, and we never really recovered from the bite. Which is why we’ll always compare every other city in the world to Rome.
When we returned to New Mexico, we stayed friends. We went to concerts together, hung out at cool bars and breweries, and even planned an entire trip to Australia for after graduation that we never went on because we both had boyfriends.
One day, I was sitting at a cafe in Wales, drinking a latte and checking my emails, when I get a Facebook message from Katie asking me if I want a travel buddy. A week later, Katie and I meet in Edinburgh and begin our month long adventure together.
After Positano, we went back to Rome together to enjoy the city where it all started. And enjoy some damn good bean soup.
I feel incredibly lucky to have such a cool, spontaneous, smart, and fun friend to explore the world with. I can’t imagine this will be our last trip together, right?