After getting barfed on yesterday, not to mention the complete washout we experienced on the bus, I thought today would look up. Apparently, not so much.

Rome in July is hot–wicked hot. Now when I say hot, I’m not sure you understand just how hot. Today was 93 degrees. If that’s not enough to convince you, allow me to introduce you to the temperature’s evil twin, 93% humidity.

And then there’s us, standing in line again because July is high tourist season in Rome and that, my friends, is what’s called a double whammy. We stand in line out in the burning sun for the bus, stand in line to see the Trevi (which was being cleaned so by the time we got up there there wasn’t even any water), stand in line to get on another bus, stand in line to get a slushie that ended up being gross…and it’s so crazy hot, in case you didn’t catch it the first (or second) time I said it.

The day was looking up when we stopped in at a local pizza place that had the best pizza I’ve ever had in my life. The. Best. Pizza. Ever. OMG, Margarita, I love you. I honestly thought I might squeal in delight as I ate it.


The pizza and wine and leisurely lunch seemed to have pulled us through our funk and we were ready to tackle the afternoon.

Until we got into the Vatican.

I expected this to be a most holy place. I did not expect the crowds or the heat or the behavior of my young son to be so very unholy. Moving through rooms of precious art like chattel, it was a disgrace both to the artists and to art itself.

We spent only an hour in the Vatican and most of that was just trying to navigate the crowd, not because we had really stopped to look at anything. The entire hour, and I mean the entire hour, Tom complained.


His favorite tirade, “I’M GOING TO DIE OF THIRST, DON’T YOU CARE? DON’T YOU LOVE ME? I SAID I’M GOING TO DIE!” rang through my nervous system until I thought I’d fracture.

In addition to the heat and the crowds is the fact I have barely slept in three days. Couple that with my expectation of holiness and the Godforsaken results, and you can understand my distress.

Finally we got into the Sistine Chapel. I took Tom’s hand, gave it to Craig and said, “Take your son.” Finally, I’m going to have a holy moment. Unfortunately, with easily two hundred other people in this very tiny chapel, all talking and gwaking and bumping into me and the guards yelling, “SILENCIO!” and “NO! No Photos!” well, it’s a wonder I have any recollection of that dimly lit room most people call a masterpiece.

Within three minutes we were out of there. You read it right, three minutes. In the Sistine Chapel. We were all shuffling out when Tom started in again.

“DO YOU KNOW HOW THIRSTY I AM??” Honestly, I had to keep my hands to my sides because if even one got some sense of motion it might have involuntarily smacked that kid.

We finally got out of there and Craig walked ahead, the three of us following. He had had it as well, so I was letting him lead without question. After about 15 minutes I asked, “Do you know where we are?”


“Should I get out the map?”


Ok. He was an Eagle Scout. The man has a good sense of direction. He wouldn’t knowingly lead us in the wrong direction. In the rain.

20 more minutes go by. I have seen nothing resembling anything familiar since we left the grounds of the Vatican.

“Really, I think I should get the map.” More rain, heavier.

“You said you trusted me to get us home, so do you trust me or not?”

Uh Oh. Keep walking.

Tommy is now perfectly happy wandering around in the rain, cooled off from the heat and away from the crowds. Now it’s Jackson’s turn.

“My knees hurt…”

Here we go.

“…and I have to go to the bathroom,” he says with a heavy sigh.

Heavy Sigh (that one was me).

Ten more minutes and he starts to lose it. “Dad doesn’t know where in the world we are and you are letting him lead? What the heck, Mom?!” This child does not drop the drama bombs the other one does and has been very calm all day without a word of complaint. Don’t be fooled, however. The energy of this kid may not be dramatic, but it carries the weight of pre-teen intensity.

20 more minutes. I’m done.

“I’m getting the map, I can’t tolerate not knowing where we are any more!” Craig turned around to face us and I could tell he had no idea where we were. And he was feeling pretty contrite.

“I messed up. I’m really sorry.” My grouse softened. Jackson? Not so much.

“WHAT THE HECK DAD?! YOU GOT US LOST IN THE RAIN FOR AN HOUR?!” There it is. Maybe he’s not eleven, maybe he’s actually 14 and I’ve just lost a few years somewhere.

After a few minutes of map checking (had we totally walked off the map for God’s sake?) and asking for directions from people who don’t speak our language nor we there’s, we finally reoriented. We went way the hell out of the way, but we were actually only a couple blocks off our street. The Boy Scout did have us going in the right direction, just the long-ass way to get to the destination.

We hauled ourselves up the stairs and plopped down on the couch of our apartment, drenched in sweat and rain. About one minute into the silence Jackson popped up, unable to let the afternoon go without a few more words on the subject.

“I still can’t believe you had us lost, Dad. FOR AN HOUR. IN THE RAIN!”

Not the best day for Team Elliott. Nor Team Rome for that matter. Maybe we should have stayed home and remodeled our kitchen after all.

And then Tommy started giggling. Hand over his mouth, spit coming out, hand off the mouth and slamming on to the couch giggling. Jackson couldn’t stay mad. None of us could.

Tomorrow is another day. And it won’t suck as bad as today.

At least I hope not.

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