Monday, November 16, 2009

Gypsy Soul

Once when I went to Rome my sister and I were swarmed by a hoard of filthy, barefoot children. Gypsies. They came upon upon us from out of nowhere and they all spoke at once. It was a whirlwind of Italian and laughter. Their hands were all over us. In our pockets. On our heads. And at our feet. Then they were gone.

We saw them run to a very large woman with a thick black braid and colorful long skirts. She sternly held out her hand to the children. They rewarded her with money.

We were later told these children make a living on the streets of Rome. They swarm those who don't expect it and pick their pockets for cash and credit cards.

I've often daydreamed about what it would be like to be a gypsy. For Halloween this year my daughter, Bella, and I wore matching costumes. She decided we would be the gypsy Esmarelda from the Hunchback of Notredame. "We kind of look like gypsies, Mama. Because we are both kinda brown." she says. "I wish we were gypsies," I reply.

I had a day dream today.

I run about ancient Rome in long skirts and bare feet. My face is smudged and eyes are bright. I have no problem stealing as long as I'm stealing from the rich. (As a gypsy my moral ethics suffer a bit.)

I am with Bella because she is my brown child and has a gypsy soul, like me. I teach her how to survive and be happy with no material wealth.

There are no schedules. There are no expectations. I don't care if I am educated because ignorance is bliss. There is only survival. There is only now. No past. The future is full of possibility. The basic hierarchy of needs. All else is superfluous.

When money is low I play my guitar on the street and Bella sings. She holds a cup for donations. The clink of coins makes her smile.

I sleep under the night's sky and dream about delicious food and angels.

Everything is simple.

My daydream is simple. What's yours?

We live in a society of constant hustle. Our days are full and at the end we can barely remember what was accomplished that made a difference. We rush to jobs and stores and we buy buy buy. And like busy little bees we work work work. In a consumer society we must keep up with Mr. and Mrs. Jones.

What daydream or memory do you cling to when things get hard? You MUST have one! The imagination is sometimes the only escape from what can be cold hard reality. When you are overwhelmed with those things you HAVE to do you must have a place of retreat in your mind. A fantasy land that makes your heart slow and face relax. Take a deep breath and go there.

One of my favorite past times is sitting alone in a room and staring at nothing. I let my thoughts run wild. I entertain myself with ideas and stories and memories. I rarely have the opportunity to just stare.

As a gypsy I can stare all day long. I can sit and watch the world go by and watch the world go buy. I can peel an orange I acquired with my five finger discount and give half to Bella. The juice dribbles down her little chin and we smile. Simple. Simple. Simple.

I realize there are downsides to being a gypsy but I won't think about those tonight.

Instead I'll take my Bella by the hand and walk. I will point out the beauty of the city and teach her gypsy magic. I will tell fortunes and read palms. Bella also has the gift. Local people know us and appreciate what we represent. Freedom.

We love Rome. But Rome doesn't own us. We travel on foot and we hitch rides. And we see new places and meet new people. I keep a sharp knife in my skirts for protection. I've been known to use it.

We bathe in fountains when no one is watching. We splash each other and laugh.

I am brought back to reality by the fact I must awake early in the morning to turn my children over to the State. School. There are so many things I have to do. My vision of gypsy freedom and cobble stone streets drifts away as I remind myself to go to the dry cleaners and the market.

So for now, I must surrender my fantasy...

My Bella