Vote Charlie!

Leaving the Italian family

Posted at age 26.

I’ve been sitting at the Leonardo da Vinci International Airport in Fiumicino, outside Rome, for nearly two hours, and just finished a chapter of “How Google Works,” so now it’s time to write. I arrived after 10 p.m., for to make my early morning flight, I would have had to rely on two buses to get me to the train on time, and my hosts advised against that. Further, I tried to route the last train to the airport with the Google Maps “last transit” feature, and the timing of the trains didn’t match the local favorite app, so I didn’t want to take chances. I ended up taking the route that both apps had in common, leaving the apartment at quarter to nine.

Once I got here, it was obvious many others have the same timing issue. There are dozens of people sitting around the entrance area right here, and I’m sure there are just as many in the other terminals. Some people are even sleeping on the just wide enough window sills along the walkway that are six feet or more off the ground. After a little Internet reading, I’ve realized some of these people are actually homeless, as a forum comment brought to my attention.

I’m not going to sleep yet, but I probably should try before too long. If I don’t sleep now, I’ll have to sleep during my several hour layover in Frankfurt, and probably on the flights, and I’ll just feel crappy if that happens. But I often end up sleeping on flights even if I am well rested, so maybe there’s not much use in trying to plan it.

Italy was great. Portugal was great, too. Staying with people who can show you around and give a local perspective has many perks compared to traveling with friends and stayed at hotels. I theoretically strive for traveling with friends to make venturing out easier and to share my life with someone, but I would like to find a way to do that while not losing out on staying with locals. But it’s also harder to find someone to host two couch surfers than one.

By the way, I don’t mean to disparage London or my host there in not mentioning them. I’m grateful David and his roommates let me stay, and it’s my fault I wanted to focus on work the first few days of the trip so I wouldn’t get behind from the get go. Sadly that meant my free time corresponded with when David, and everyone, left for spring break, so I was basically staying alone in a hotel. But it saved me money compared to actually staying in a hotel, and I did still get to know him a bit even while I was not spending my days sight seeing.

Today was kind of strange. Being a Monday, I expected Marco and Stefan to go to school, and thought I’d focus on work today. Marco, again, ended up sleeping in and convincing himself not to go to school. I’d done this many times in my college days, so I just had to laugh, after making a modest effort to get him to go. It was also my last day, so I didn’t really want to be alone all day anyway. Stefan ended up not having school today also, so we were all just home throughout the day. I got my work in with a late start, which was fine, since I was ahead from the weekend anyhow. I didn’t really do anything special today, as you might expect I’d do on a last day, but it was nice to chill a bit after much out and about ness over the past four days.

We did do a bit of cuddling, but again, not as much as you might expect on the day of separation, possibly forever. In this case, I think it’s fairly likely I will see both of them again, for Marco seems set on living in San Francisco in a few years, and the family is very close, so I’m sure if that happens, Stefano will visit at some point.

It’s going to be weird not being immersed in that family. When Marco first told me his household was two brothers and two sisters, I assumed he meant he lived with three siblings. Then I found out it was just his brother, and the other two roommates were sisters. But from my perspective, they really did all seem like siblings. It was adorable and endearing, unlike anything I have seen of my friends and acquaintances in the states. Marco makes his and his brother’s beds every morning, even folding and placing beneath the pillow both of their pajamas. Both guys wore handmade bracelets from their other brother who lives in Ecuador, and they haven’t taken some off even after years. Stefano and the girls cooked meals for everyone. They usually ate together, all crammed in the little kitchen that barely fit a small table with four chairs, with standing room for maybe one other person to spare. They were affectionate and leaned on each other and did each other’s hair. They even go out to bars and clubs together, and share a vehicle.

Marco told me he has some best friends, but really, his brothers are his best friends. I didn’t ask if it had always been like that, but it was clear this was not a new phenomenon. They aren’t yet out to their parents, though, which surprised me given how close the family seems. But despite that, I’m sure those bonds will sustain them all throughout any tough times the fates might muster. I know my perspective is a little skewed toward individualism, not just because I’m American, but because I started working at age 10 and through that experience, didn’t spend a ton of time with my siblings growing up. But kids these days seem to spend the time I spent working not with their siblings, but with electronics, so I can only hope my tradeoff was worthwhile.


After driving a half hour to eat food track food representing all of Italy at the festival Streeat, we only ended up trying one thing, and then headed to a nearby bar. I got to try a banana beer, and the ladies asked me what I think of them. It was a nice night out!