One of the strangest sensations I've had here in Rome is feeling stylish. Italians, of course, are really into fashion and its conformities. Walking the streets and riding on the Metro, one can't help but notice what's in style. One thing right now seems to be the classic Eastpak backpack. It's funny because it's entirely coincidental, but I have one too. I think I bought it on my way into the Order, which would have been twelve years ago. I also notice that everybody is wearing Chucks. My black ones, bought perhaps twenty years ago, are in the friary basement in Boston. Back then they were the acceptable hot-weather alternative to Docs. The really cool-looking kids, however, wear Vans. I had a pair of those too, way back around 1990. They were green, as I recall.
In addition to this, one doesn't feel as self-conscious here wearing the religious habit in public. It's partly because it's Rome and the habit is a common sight. But there's more to it than that. There's a culture of dress and uniform here that renders it less shocking. Once you get used to seeing the lovely epaulets of the Roman transit police and the shiny badges of the Carabinieri as well as all the other officious persons in official uniforms one encounters in Italy, religious garb and ecclesiastical dress just aren't as outrageous as they can sometimes seem back at home. In fact, they kind of fit in.