Who knew I would ever ‘live’ in Rome? Well, not actually, but I have been here for two weeks, now, staying with Becca in her apartment and, thus, am privy to day-to-day living as opposed to the embellished sojourn of a tourist. Reality versus escapism. No more the rush of throwing caution to the wind; of breakfasting in the piazza café every morning; stopping for a glass of vino, just because, at lunchtime; carefree afternoons in the winter sunshine, wondering at the history in every frame, to the accompaniment of the mournful violin or saxophone – the street buskers, so Rome! It is said one should never meet one’s heroes for fear of disappointment. Is this the same thing? Does ‘living’ somewhere one has, so far, only relished as a holiday destination remove the veneer; erase the magic?
For my part, I had two ‘heroes’ growing up and, many years on, was privileged to meet them both. One became the dearest of friends – family – and the other? Well, he was just everything I knew he would be. I was supposed to marry him but … Love them both. So, blows that theory out of the water! Same with Rome … Yes, Becca going off to school/work every morning is a reality check and the day before me a reminder of what I must achieve – the ‘to do’ list in my head – but I need only walk through her big green door, into the cobbled street beyond. to immediately glimpse the forum in the distance, look up at the sun-strewn blue sky and hear the strains of a familiar melody. The magic is irrepressible; the history all-encompassing. On my daily wander, the pace is slow as I pause just to stand, in awe, and think. I do the same, at home, on the West Sands. It’s something I crave – perspective. As the news gets ever worse and day-to-day life becomes increasingly stressful, the scary world of now is forever dwarfed by the power of Nature and the might of history. Neither are fleeting. Both are steadfast; strong; reliable; unchanging. While footprints in the sand are constantly erased, only to be replaced tomorrow, the tides remain … always.
People. They change … and not for the better, in my experience. A misanthropist by nature – thanks, Pop – I like individuals, not a race; the person, never the crowd. That said, once a tourist in Rome, I loved all Italians. No longer the rose-coloured glasses … They all wear black; a sea of black. Even an accent of colour is rare. Black hair, black clothes, I find it oppressive. Why? The sun is shining, the sky is blue but they wear black? Meanwhile, the dramatics … The language is intense. No lilt, no pause, just full-on drama. The urgency. It is exhausting! Anything else?
Manners. The lack of. The world over, granted, but, here, I am more aware now. Please, thank you, excuse me? No pleasantries required for a passing stranger … How sad. As I jostle on the streets, I vow that Salzburg/Austria is the place for me. No such disdain. Perhaps but, in the end, it all comes down to class. Well, class as opposed to money! Good, old-fashioned values – a respect for. Laughably, as I strive to avoid the ‘Joe Bloggs’ of this world, it seems that wherever I go, they gather. Seriously! As cats are, inevitably, drawn to those who dislike them, so it is with me. Thus, yesterday, I walked down the Via dei Fori Imperiali, round the ‘Wedding Cake’ and up the stairs to the terrace/viewpoint at the back, looking over the city. Nobody else there, I stood, alone, in the fading warmth of the late afternoon sun, content in my own space; my own, chosen space in a large area! No reason for anyone to encroach … Below, I could see Becca stepping off the bus, immediately recognisable in her striking, deep pink Longchamp scarf, all the more bright against her navy coat. As she appeared beside me, we continued to bathe in the vista as the hues of the sinking sun enhanced the pastels of the buildings all around. Mother Nature’s writing, once more.
Short-lived. On this extensive terrace, suddenly, two young Italian women appeared bang next to us – chattering loudly, of course – and proceeded to climb onto the wall, legs crossed, and continue. No thought. No consideration. No concept of personal space. Becca studied my face, nervously, astutely aware of my honed intolerance of such rudeness; ignorance. Minutes passed. Both were aware of their ‘crime’, on receipt of the look, but, quite clearly, could not care less. Resigned. Perspective? All very well until the music started, courtesy of the beloved iphone. Enough! Time to go but not without an impromptu lesson in manners: “This is a large area! Why should we be forced to listen to your music?!” Boy, that felt good, made all the more so by the shock on their faces …
Of course, in exactly the same spot again, this afternoon – good for phone signal and peace (usually!) – exactly the same thing happened. Completely alone on my arrival, I made my phone call and then went over to the far corner to lean on the wall and watch for Becca below. Time to think – or maybe not! Once again, two young girls appeared – loud Americans, this time – and clambered onto the wall right next to me. Pop, wherever you are, I could hear you laughing. You would have been incandescent with rage! The thing is, what to do? Yes, they don’t care and, yes, it is a public area but what happened to consideration for others? The respect for personal space? Gone, along with manners, in general. ‘No man is an island …’ John Donne? Never heard of him. Today, it is all about me! Except when I’m around. To accept the downward spiral to the lowest common denominator – and say nothing – is not an option. That would be giving up.
Suffice to say, by the time Becca joined me, we could just as well have been in Beijing! God knows how the word spreads but it seems that, wherever I go in search of solitude, a crowd gathers. The irony is deafening while someone, somewhere, is revelling in glorious amusement …
Unbelievable. A thousand words and no mention of a gender-neutral God nor the rapid demise of the ‘White Stiletto’ following her embarrassing own goal. No lines devoted to Mark Steyn’s ‘engineered’ resignation from GB News – suitably related to Covid vaccine injury and the deafening media silence surrounding the frightening surge in excess deaths – nor to the record number of morons apparently rushing to the florist to send flowers to themselves after listening to Miley Cyrus’ latest hit. If Miley can do it … I rest my case. The little green men in search of intelligent life, who mistakenly, once, found themselves in Tiger Lily? They’re long gone. One-way ticket to anywhere, now!
‘Be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high. Then life seems almost enchanted after all.’
Vincent Van Gogh
Never let go of the magic …
This is Trish, signing off.