Our final two days were in Rome, one of the world's most romantic cities, and my mind was on love. I booked a double room in a place that promised peace and quiet, a place of solace. What better way to end our trip, I thought. We were met at the entrance by the man we'd spoken with who escorted us into a stunning courtyard, filled with soft light and magnificent flowers and fruit trees. I was slightly suspicious when I saw the religious statues, but Rome is full of religious statues, I said to myself. Then I saw the nuns - three of them in full regalia - acting like they owned the place, which, in fact, they did. They lived in the other building, the man assured us.
Our room was spare and small. Two single beds (thus the double billing), narrow and hard with mattresses a short step away from bare ground. There was a single lamp between them and a small attached bathroom. A window opened to the street outside. As promised, it was peaceful and quiet. My disappointment was palpable. But I said to Leslie, "I've never made love in a convent before and it offers the opportunity to rid myself of any remaining catholic inhibitions. I'll show 'em nuns." Leslie, nothing if not a good sport, agreed to go along with the program.
We spent the day walking through Trastevere's elegant parks and gardens and suppered in a small family restaurant just up the street from the nunnery. Another great meal of pasta and seafood, wine, a light desert and we walked home arm in arm in the cool air. There, we undressed and I invited her to my bed. We are not big people, but cramped doesn't begin to describe the situation. Yet we persisted, thankful for the lack of creaking bedsprings, or any bedsprings at all, in the absolute silence of the convent night. But then, the bed itself took over, knocking, banging, wood on wood, wood on wall, making noise I only imagined possible on a boat in a North Sea storm, echoing both inside the building and outside in the street. I lost focus and began thinking of neighbors, the other residents, and yes, the nuns. "I'm sorry," I said, "i've got to stop." Leslie looked me in the eye, stroked my cheek and said, "well, I guess those nuns have still got you."