67 & Dumped: on Her Own in Rome
For the first 20 years of my life, I vacationed with my parents. We always stayed at first-class hotels.
The next 35 or so years I traveled with my husband, a jazz musician who had very different ideas as to what was acceptable in the travel department. Can I make it clearer than to say that I’m a Jewish girl from New York, and he’s a preacher’s kid from Kentucky? As a kid, his family camped in the Appalachians, while I considered it roughing it if the hotel-room curtains didn’t match the bedspread.
A few years ago, my husband dave (he will never get a capital letter from me again) unexpectedly left me for another woman and another life. Unexpected for me, probably not for him.
The author at the Piazza de Spagna. (Courtesy: Mattie Matthews.)
I was 67 at the time. Though my fear of flying had stopped me from going many places that involved a plane for quite a few years, I decided that I was going to live a braver life—and if that meant drinking a vodka and taking half a mental-patient pill to keep me from running down the aisle screaming at take-off, so be it.
While married to dave, almost all the traveling we did was either for his work or on our 31-foot sailboat down the Intracoastal and to the Bahamas. Believe me, that wasn’t my idea of a vacation. It was doing everything I did at home, only harder (good luck to his new babe).
A few years ago, I accompanied dave and his band on a tour of Italy. Though we hadn’t been there since early in our marriage I was reminded of how much I loved it, especially the people and the food.
One of the things that came with my new life was the realization that whatever I did and wherever I went would be only by my choice. That took some getting used to.
In 1997, my father had died and left me and my sisters with some money. Not a fortune—but something. I was the only sister without children, so when my marriage broke up I was also the only sister who still had our father’s money. It wasn’t easy, but I talked my sister Marcia into letting me use this money so that we could both see a bit of the world. Our father would have loved that.
Last year, we took a cruise to Italy and Spain. It was great, but this time around, Marcia didn’t want to stay away from her husband for so long, so we decided to plan a trip to Italy. We both loved Italy.
Marcia was really looking forward to Rome. I think she loved it more because she lives in the country. Well, maybe upstate New York isn’t really the country, but I once saw a snake there so it’s country enough for me.
For this trip, my niece Stephanie recommended that I use her travel agent, Eva, at E.V.A. Travel. This woman helps plan her trips all over the world—from mountain climbing to luxury resorts. She pointed us to some wonderful affordable hotels like the Residenza Antica Roma, where the rates start at around $125 a night—and she also helped roll out the red carpet. There’s nothing better than having someone waiting to pick you up at the airport, sign in hand.
Rooftops of Rome. (Photo: Gianpaolo Macorig)