Unable to make my way home across the city after Italy’s World Cup victory last night, I was delightfully left with no option but to take to the streets of Rome along with everyone else. By midnight everyone else included: cars full of face-painted celebrants; moped drivers and passengers wearing the tricolor flag as a cape; immigrants as proud, joyous, and decorated as native Romans; a young man with his leg in a cast and a broad smile on his face dexterously moving through the crowd on crutches; a bikini-clad babe standing on the back of her man’s moped, waving the flag and her fine figure to the cheers of everyone nearby; babies in car seats, sound asleep despite the constant horn-blowing and clamor of noise-makers of all sorts; and groups of teenagers on the corner, gesticulating and affectionately yelling phrases full of celebratory expletives at anyone who wasn’t contributing to the beautiful chaos.
For the first time in twenty-four years Italy was able to explode in full World Cup celebration. For some it was, in a way, a matter of life and death—driving around Porta San Giovanni I saw several signs done in the style of the obituary announcement posters that appear around towns following someone’s death, this time mourning the French soccer team’s loss: mors tua vita mea. What is a family to do when Italy triumphs? Get everyone into the car—preferably more people than could or should normally fit into it, hence forcing windows, sunroofs, and doors open—and set the kids on the roof while cruising round the neighborhood, of course. Captured out of context, some areas almost looked like war zones, filled as they were by the smoke and flares of sparklers, sweat-covered bodies, and screams. Two days from now the taxi drivers will begin their official strike, following an angry week of unauthorized strikes and protests about deregulation of the trade, but that didn’t stop them from packing their friends and families into the now infamously inaccessible white, SPQR-labeled vehicles for one last joyride. Much like New York, yet in a very different spirit, Rome is a city where I am acutely aware of life’s overwhelming gorgeousness, and of my own deep foreignness. Yet last night any- and everyone who was out on the street was embraced as part of the champions’ extended family.
Previous Lunar Refractions can be read here.