But I feel like my identity was stolen from me too.
I mean, it very well could be. Someone somewhere will probably be buying my passport from the black market soon. After all, it is worth 100 G’s over here. So there will be another person in the world calling herself “Rochelle Feldkamp.” There will be two of us.
I’m not so ready for that yet. And yesterday, when all our suitcases were stolen from the car, parked and locked on a Rome side street, my most precious clothing items were inclosed. “This is my favorite sweater.” “I finally found a good pair of overalls!” “I think I’ll always love this Mexican blanket denim jacket.” I said something close to those phrases that very morning. I try to buy clothes sparsely now, and the ones I do buy, I pick to carefully shape my outward appearance. And my Chacos! The ones that have held my feet for miles and miles of walking in 7 countries, the ones I bought with my tax return money before I went to Europe the first time. And now in Europe they will stay.
But perhaps the thing I mourn most is losing my journal, the purple leather one that was given to me on my 19th birthday three years ago, and has seen me thru such rough times as well as happy times. It holds poems and prose and potential and completed songs and letters I never sent but needed to write. And now, I can never revisit these memories in their complete form, for after all, they are only memories now, nothing concrete. I have no tangible way to measure how far I’ve come and regressed.
I keep remembering things that are forever lost. The hat my sweetheart gave me. The book I was in the middle of reading. My glasses! I must wear my contacts the whole trip now. The most perfect pair of denim shorts I’ve yet to find in a Goodwill. Headphones. Earrings from Belize recently gifted to me. Beautiful pairs of lacy underwear. It goes on and on, really.
But what’s funny about all this is that I am still here and safe, and so is my family. I don’t think I’ll ever forget opening the car to see it completely clean, knowing we couldn’t call 911, sprinting thru the Roman streets to the nearest police station. Slow, broken, out of breath English paraphrases of the event: “Luggage – stolen – from car – passports – computer – all clothes – everything gone.” Hailing a taxi to the US Embassy at 3:30 before they closed at 4 for the weekend to get emergency passports. Running thru the monetary and sentimental totals of how much we’d lost. But no tears were shed. Many curse words were said. Many frustrated sighs were released. It was all a pain in the ass, lemme tell ya. But it was nothing worth crying over.
My mother, brother, and sister are still with me. So are our wallets and phones. So is our rental car. We are all safe. And as sad as it is for those things to be lost forever, they are mostly replaceable. We will miss and mourn those things. But are more lucky than many because we can trust that our food, clothing, and shelter needs will be met, even if it isn’t how we like.
And what’s even more funny about all this is that even though almost all our material possessions in Italy have been stolen from us, truly, our identities have not been, because we are so much more than that. These things hurt to be taken from us because we have attached pieces of our hearts to them. We have allowed them to represent us. But whether this is what’s right or not, we will use more money to replace what we lost and try to get replicas of the things we now miss. And though this event will change us forever, our hearts still belong to us, and we are all still safe.