Sunday, June 15, 2008

What's the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?
Decorno asked this question a few days ago and instead of responding by commenting I decided to just write my own post and ask you the same question.
There are obviously too many nice things to even begin to discuss, but so many of those nice occurrences seem to have been out of obligation (ex: your parents HAVE to provide for you and y mom has fought to do so indeed) or they are somehow overshadowed by something not nice that the person does later (ex: my pink rose on Valentines Day this year was lovely, but the boy turned out to be an ass).
So when necessity block all other options out, this is what I'm left with-a day where several people did nice things for me:
Years ago, while backpacking in Europe I had said goodbye to some of my friends who were going on to another destination while I waited, alone for a day in Rome, for another group of friends to accompany me on the rest of my grand tour. I was broke. I mean really broke. I thought it was the brokest (yes, I realize that's not actually a word) I had ever been, until my financial situation got even graver a few weeks later. Nevertheless, at that time it was the brokest I had ever been. I decided I was going to make the most of it though, so I got dressed, left the hostel and took a walk to the Colosseum a few blocks away.
I was determined that I was going to sketch in the Roman Forum, but just my luck, it was raining a torrential downpour. I ducked into a little cafe overlooking the most amazing view and decided to spend a precious few euros on a cup of coffee. To my surprise and amazement, I had three cups, all on the house, given to me by the devastatingly handsome waiter. From what I recall he looked something like this guy:
What a magnificent day this was turning out to be! When the rain finally subsided, I walked over to the forum and perched myself on a rock with my sketchpad. Now, I've travelled pretty extensively. I've been in a room where Mary Queen of Scots was once imprisoned, I've sat down at a table where Martin Luther ate several meals while discussing theology, but here, walking in the footsteps of Julius freakin Caesar I kind of lost it. I honestly can't explain the awe I felt in this place. I started to immerse myself in my sketches of the Arch De Titus when the loveliest of men appeared at my side. He tried to speak to me in French first (do I look French, the answer is no). I just shook my head, then he tried Italian (no, I don't look Italian either) but I could manage to speak enough to tell him that I am American. I should have been frightened, looking back on it now, I should have really been scared of this stranger, but I wasn't, not even a little bit. He sat down next to me and started asking if I were an artist, I explained that in a sense, yes I was - a designer. We talked about Rome and how extraordinarily breathtaking it is. He gave me directions to the mouth of truth. We bonded and it didn't hurt that this Frenchman who owned a house outside of Florence was extremely beautiful and with this host of exotic accents, I could literally feel myself being carried away. Nevertheless, I declined his offers to show me around Rome (Momma, be proud) and as he was leaving he looked down at the drawing I had sketched while we spoke and then he looked up into my eyes and said "some day you'll create something just as beautiful".
I'm crying now, I don't know why I didn't cry then. It was the most amazing compliment I have ever received. I hope that I don't let that lovely man down, one day one day I will create something just as beautiful.
At that very moment I felt like I could do anything, like I could fly if I wanted to, I guess I felt sort of like this:
That whole conversation could have ended differently of course, but I sincerely doubt that this man would have continued to be as polite as Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday and after all I am not a princess in disguise. (or am I? *wink*wink*)
It doesn't get any better than that, right? But then, it did. I sat, sketching for a little while longer and while I was deep in thought (probably in the midst of hating every art teacher I'd ever had, because if only they could see me now! Maybe all I needed was just a bit of inspiration in the form of centuries old stone monuments, damn them). Anyway, while I was deep in thought the most amazing figure approached me. Slowly but very self assured, this stunning nun in full black and white habit came down and sat next to me. She talked for several minutes in Italian too swift for me to understand, but it didn't matter - my soul understood every word she said even if my ears didn't and it was all the same to her. Then as she gathered her skirt to walk away she looked down into my eyes, placed her finger on my forehead and said some sort of blessing over me as a tears began to stream down my non-Catholic face. Maybe she thought I was crazy for walking around Rome by myself, maybe she thought I was sick and needed healing or maybe just maybe she prayed that one day I would have the abilities to create something beautiful, lasting, and extraordinary.
So all that is to say that the nicest things anyone has ever done for me all occurred miraculously within a time span of about 3 hours, in Rome on a rainy Spring day in 2004. Three separate people all led by one supreme being I believe, to be nice to me when I needed it most. You see, that's the best thing about nice things you do to people or they do for you - they come back, again and again, re-gifting when some one's had a rotten day and they seem like they just can't go on, those memories of something and someone nice keep them going. So do something nice today and tomorrow and the next. . .

Note: While looking for photos to use with this post I came across this website where they actually call one of their tours Serendipity - how extraordinary indeed.

image 1: Colosseum photo: Jon Rawlinson found on

image 3: Arch of Titus photo:

image 4: Audrey Hepburn photo in Roman Holiday:

image 5: Photo of the Roman Forum at night:


karey m. said...

i love this story. the world really is magic, don't you think?

claire said...

cool story.
may I add a suggestion for those who are going to be inspired by it and pack for Rome...
look in vacation rentals in rome to find an accommodation in the eternal city....