It’s still a week away, but I’m already trying to get myself in the right mindset for my upcoming vacation. It’s a somewhat spontaneous trip to Rome, Florence, and Venice, prompted mostly by watching the last season of the HBO series in a two-week burst and then getting an e-mail reminding me my frequent flier miles were about to expire.
I say “somewhat spontaneous” because I made the reservations well over a month ago. But that’s spontaneous for me, because I’ve got the kind of overwhelming inertia that makes me have to fill out a list of pros and cons before I’ll leave the house even for groceries. I get… nervous when I’m separated from my computer and refrigerator for too long. The movie Into the Wild, about a guy who abandons all his possessions and hitchhikes through Alaska, is incorrectly labeled as “Adventure” and “Biography”. I call it “horror.”
But that’s negative thinking! This is going to be an adventure-filled trip to the birthplace of civilization. It’ll be great to get away from San Francisco, and visit a place with fascinating history, great food, interesting architecture, and a beautiful rolling countryside filled with vineyards.
That’s the other problem: it’s kind of hard to get all that excited about sightseeing when you start every day by driving over the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County. There are plenty of things not to like about San Francisco, but “lack of scenery” isn’t one of them.
I’ve tried to get myself in the mood by watching La Dolce Vita and Roman Holiday and of course, Gomorra, but as soon as the camera stops showing the Coliseum or the Forum or gondolas or dudes wrestling in togas, my attention starts to drift elsewhere. I’m not even a little bit Italian, and I don’t drink wine or coffee, so there’s little pulling me there.
Of course, I’m not at all Japanese, and I’m not crazy about seafood, so there’s little pulling me to Japan either. The difference there: the place really does feel like you’re about to see a samurai or a giant robot (or both!) at any moment. The part of me that would rather stay in bed keeps telling me that Italy is just foreign enough to be inconvenient, but not foreign enough to feel like an adventure.
So my current plan is just to chill the hell out. I’m not going to think of it as a once-in-a-lifetime expedition to a land rich in history, but a vacation. I’m not going to make a list of 100 things I have to see in each location, but wander around and take pictures. If I feel like heading back to the hotel room and watching TV or just lying down, so what? I’m not getting graded on this trip, and if I miss anything important, that’s what the Travel Channel is for. I’ll just take advantage of two weeks of not doing anything of consequence, and more important: not feeling like I should be doing anything of consequence.
And testing my theory about how much prosciutto a human being can eat before his heart explodes. And chasing it with tiramisu.