Our flight to Rome was eerily uneventful. Even though we had a connecting flight through D.C., we didn't wait in one line the whole day.
Sir Dexter Augustus' best friend flies to Israel often, and so his wedding present to us were fancy pants tickets to Rome. And I don't mean just any kind of fancy pants tickets. I mean Global First fancy pants, where the food is arguably better than the food at the Biltmore.
Since our week in Rome was going to be wicked busy, this wedding present that allowed us to get a little sleep on the overnight flight is one of the most thoughtful. This was also the worst wedding present, because it's ruined us for coach forever.
We landed and got to our inn, Sweetly Home Roma. We chose this inn, not just because it was economical and looked adorable, but also because it's literally across the street from the Vatican. The innkeeper was there to meet us when we arrived, and she made sure we had everything we needed, including ridiculously delicious pastries from the cafe next door.
Most brides get a little rest after their weddings, but not me. Ken was determined to keep me up all day and all evening so that we could adjust to the time zone. Didn't think you could see all of Rome in a day? With Ken, anything is possible. Vatican, Ruins, Pantheon... we saw it all. Superficially saw them as we ran by them, but we saw them nonetheless.
When we arrived at the Colleseum at dusk, Ken asked with arms outstretched in front of him:
"So, baby, what do you think?!"
Remember in "Christmas Vacation" when Clark finally finds the perfect Christmas tree in the middle of the snow-filled forest. He turns to his daughter and says "what do you think?" His wife replies, "she can see it later, honey. Her eyes are frozen." My first Colosseum experience was kind of just like that. Don't worry... we had much deeper experiences the second time around.
But there was one moment that first day that I'll always remember clearly.
After we checked-in our first order of business was to check out the Vatican. We figured since we were going to be married there in two days, we should at least see what the hoopla was about. Ken had been there before, but I really had no idea what to expect.
So remember we've talked about the issues with overstimulation? Between all of the gilded pictures and frescoes, the crowds pushing in on you, even on a Tuesday the Vatican is an overwhelming experience. As we moved through the museums and chapels, my head swiveled towards every sparkly thing. I felt every bump in my shoulder. I was seeing everything at the surface. I was seeing nothing deeply.
Finally Ken stopped me, looked me square in the eye, and said:
"Do you trust me?"
"Like do I trust that you won't throw me off the roof of the Vatican, yes. Do I trust that you won't steal my pizza at dinner? Ehhhhh... Okay, sure."
"Then close your eyes."
I snapped him a skeptical look, but still I did it.
In the middle of the Vatican with hundreds, if not thousands of people pressing in on us, I closed my eyes. For over a minute he guided me through the maze of people and displays. In that moment I could have sworn there was no one else around us. All I could feel was his hands on my shoulders. All I could hear were the whispered directions: "Turn right. Now a big step up. Now turn little left." When he stopped me, he lifted my chin and said "now open your eyes."
This is what I saw:
Ken had found a spot directly underneath Creation. The very first thing I saw in the Sistine Chapel wasn't a crowded room full of tourists with selfie sticks. The first thing I saw wasn't even the overwhelming enormity of ceiling. He gave me this moment where in the middle of the Chapel, it was just me and him looking up at the most beautiful piece of art in the entire world.
I know that these posts can be a bit syrupy-sweet nauseating. But I never want to forget these moments. More importantly, I never want to take these moments for granted. This year went by so fast. The days are going by even faster than ever. And if I can somehow lap up the syrupy sweetness in every day and in every memory, well then I don't mind being a little nauseated every once in a while.