final day in Italy - depart Rome and return to USA
Rome Travel Blog› entry 19 of 20 › view all entries
Just before 7:00am I woke up drenched with sweat. My room at Hotel Nord was stifling! I threw off my covers and opened the window to find some relief. My head was still spinning, but it was too hot to sleep, so instead I took a shower, got dressed, packed my bags, and brought them down stairs. I then went to see Melissa in her room, but she wasn’t there, so I went outside and took an aimless stroll around Rome by myself.
Aside from a few other pedestrians the city streets were dead calm at that hour on Sunday morning. Lost in my thoughts, I didn’t really watch were I was going until I came upon the Fountain of the Naiads in Piazza della Repubblica.
I continued my saunter for about an hour or so until I ran out of film and found my way back to Via Cavour. Everyone else up by then and some had come down for breakfast. Carl told me Melissa was in her room, so I went there to look for her. She was packing at the time and invited me in to hang out. Uncomfortably, I sat there watching her fold some clothes and wondered if things would be weird between us or if I’d be able touch her again without feeling as though we were doing something wrong.
Following breakfast, we loaded our bags onto the bus and we were on our way back to the airport. Our early transfer afforded us time to have lunch and do some shopping. A couple of hours later, we boarded the plane and were heading back to JFK International Airport in New York. Melissa was still feeling ill when we took off from Rome and I switched seats with another passenger to sit with her. It was not until a few hours into the flight that her condition worsened and she really started to look like death.
Melissa had the window seat, I had the middle, and a stranger had the isle. Throughout the flight, I cradled Melissa’s limp torso in my arms to make her more comfortable. Trying to keep her hydrated, I fed her sips of water and spoke words of encouragement to motivate her to drink. She was so enervated she had difficulty even holding her head up. When we landed, the other passengers began to leave their seats to collect their carryon bags, but the idiot beside me sat still, leaving my patient and me unnecessarily crowded.
Finally off the plane, the ground crew had a wheelchair waiting for us at the beginning of the jetway and I placed her in the seat. Melissa was passed out cold at the immigration counter when I presented her documents and passport to the agent. Noting Melissa’s last name, the friendly woman (who presumed we were a couple) advised me, “…Better learn some Spanish.
I got Melissa and our luggage through customs and to the exit where some people from Alitalia joined us to help out by arranging for a car to bring us to the JFK medical center (CMC Occupational Health Services, P.C.). Melissa later shared the last thing she remembered was that I’d walked her off the plane and gotten her into the wheelchair and the next was when we arrived at the medical center. Because she was so sick (mostly from dehydration), the physician’s assistant who treated her advised against taking her on the bus to CCSU. At that point, I felt reassured that she was in the care of capable medical professionals.
Since she would have to stay in the medical center, hooked up to IVs, I agreed to stay with her, but the faculty refused to allow that citing issues of liability and their obligation to return me to campus. Dr. Tracey then decided to remain with Melissa while the rest of us headed back to Central. She asked me to call her boyfriend, Mikey, to let him know she would not need a ride from the school and the PA let me use the office phone. Dr. Tracey then called Melissa’s mother who agreed to drive down to New York to bring the two of them home.
Having gone without sleep on the plane while taking care of Melissa (after getting only an hour and a half the night before), I was thoroughly exhausted and slept through most of the ride to New Britain. Although I had called my brother from the road and told him the time I expected to arrive, he was still late and I was the last one standing there with my bags waiting for my ride. Actually, June was kind enough to come back to keep me company until he got there just after 9:00pm. Still in dire need of sleep, I did stay awake for the 20-minute drive to Bristol and gave my brother a brief summary of the incredible time I’d just had over the past nine days. It was my first trip overseas and my most enriching experience. Italy is an amazing country, so full of culture and history, being back home everything else seemed smaller in contrast. It was a trip I’ll never forget.