3rd drama and coda
From Florence, we took another train to Rome. It was warmer in Rome, and the whole city was like one big museum, with ruins of ancient times found in every corner. My mood picked up as I was mesmerized by the beauty of the fallen empire. Watching the afternoon sun coloring the Forum sepia, I was speechless.
We made a pilgrimage to Vatican city. While in the museum, we lost sight of each other. With no mobile phone, we had to look for one another. At some point, I stopped walking around and stayed put. I stood at the stairs for a long time until Maya reappeared, and we hugged in relief. It turned out Maya had gone up to the tower without me while I waited for her so we could go up together. I was annoyed she didn’t look for me as seriously as I did. We went to the tower together, and by the time we got to the Sistine Chapel, they had closed for the day. We missed the rare opportunity to see Michelangelo because of our silly mishap.
From Rome, we took the train back to Vienna in the daylight. We passed the areas of Switzerland and Austria that were covered with snow, and the view was quite amazing. I made a wish that I would come back to see the Alps someday, which came true about 12 years later.
Meili and her father welcomed us back at the Vienna station. We spent the next few days in Vienna. Maya was antsy until the end of the trip, and I followed her on the last tour around Vienna. I was pretty tired by then and was happy just hanging out with Meili’s sisters, eating her mom’s congee breakfast, and playing ma-jong with them. Winter break came to an end, and we flew back to LA. I was sad to leave thinking it was the once in a lifetime trip. Again, I wouldn’t have known I’d be back in Vienna only ten years later, by which time Meili’s family already returned to Taiwan, and Meili had started her own family.