7 days until Ironman UK (Monday)
(You weren’t worried about your wallet anymore?)
Forget about my wallet, I was worried I was going to miss my connecting flight and be stranded.
(What time was it?)
(What time did your body think it was?)
Don’t ask. I had two hours left and I had no idea how long any of this was going to take me. I got on the 4 line. I rode the NYC Subway when I was at NYU. The 4 takes you to the 5.
(No, it doesn’t.)
At the end of the 4 line I exited the car and waited for a return to the 2 stop so I could catch the 5 train.
(Let me get this straight; you left your wallet on the plane; you were separated from your family and you were on the wrong subway line?)
(How did you stay calm?)
I kept looking at my phone to avoid looking at my watch.
Stop that. There I was in a foreign country, no wallet, trying to get to another side of an airport I had never seen before. I pictured my family, casually strolling through the airport, all smiles, no worries, as I was trying not to freak-out.
(There’s a Led Zeppelin song lyric about minutes seem like hours.)
Ain’t that the truth? Two minutes later I arrived back at stop 2.
(Not as long as a New York Subway, was it?)
I stepped onto the platform and immediately saw my family approaching me.
(At least you can be late together.)
I said to my wife, “Guess what I left on the plane?”
(How did your wife react?)
She could tell by reading my face that I was calm, so she knew I had this figured out.
(Wait, you had what???)
My phone buzzed with a text from Peter,
“I FOUND YOUR WALLET!”
“I’m going to need you to go back to the airport. I’ll give you information in a minute.”
“I can’t. About to board for Rome.”
“Are you coming back through Heathrow when you go home?”
“Yes. Thursday morning.”
“Done. Your wallet is in the safe in the “additional services” office. They’ll hold it until you get back.”
(On to your next disaster.)
We landed in Rome and we were greeted by a driver who spoke zero English.
He drove us to the Jewish ghetto, but he could not find our Airbnb.
(This just keeps getting better and better.)
The Jewish Ghetto of Rome was not the walled off section of the city as I had imagined.
It was a series of interlocking cobblestone alleyways. There was café-style dining at the center of the ghetto.
(You found food, problem solved?)
No, my phone was not dialing out, so I emailed the travel agent who in turn started calling the Airbnb agent.
It was a series of me, wandering around, trying to find anyone who could understand where the apartment was.
(Via del Portico d’Ottavia was not showing up on Google Maps?)
No. After 45 minutes of us going back and forth, the driver wanted to leave us on the curb and I was down to 5% battery life, hoping that someone was going to tell us where we were sleeping in a city with a language we did not speak.
(Fewer than 12 hours into your trip, you’ve lost your wallet, you can’t find your Airbnb, you don’t speak the language and your phone was about to die?)
(At least it couldn’t get any worse … could it?)
I walked down the corridor behind the row of restaurants again. A tall young man stepped out of the door and asked, “Are you David Roher? I’ve been trying to reach you all day.”
(You need to figure out what was wrong with your phone.)
We settled into the duplex in the heart of Rome’s Jewish ghetto. It reminded me of the apartments I visited in Israel when I last saw Jason Novich. American apartments are made of wood and steel. There’s a certain give when you walk.
Here, the apartment seemed to sit on bedrock and be made of rock. It was like walking up the stairs in Giants Stadium, in the Meadowlands.
(You mean Metlife Stadium.)
Listen, I was going to Metallica concerts there when the band still had long hair. The “Meadowlands” will always be the Brendan Byrne Arena and Giants Stadium.
(What is the first thing you visited in Rome?)
A restaurant! Rome is famous for its artichokes, so I ordered an entrecote steak with artichokes.
It was good, but not the unique kosher experience I was hoping for.
(Order the more exotic dishes tomorrow.)
We went back to the duplex and my family went to sleep. But not me; I couldn’t sleep.
I went running through the city.
At one point I got lost and instead of panicking…
(How do you not panic?)
I didn’t let the voice of doubt get a word in.
(You mean me?)
Yes, you. Instead I focused on getting back to the duplex. I run in Manhattan. A city is a grid. Rome must be a grid too. I looked at the map on my phone to find my direction back … as my cell phone began to die…
David Roher is a USAT certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and veteran special education teacher. He is on Instagram @David Roher140.6. He can be reached at [email protected].