We meet again, Rome. Rome, with your dangerously unpaved roads and cobblestone alleys that look straight but are actually circles that dead end or lead to more circles that laugh at your lost travellers in the dark as they struggle through the streets with broken suitcases. Rome, with your fast-paced civilians and lightening speed bicycles zipping in and out of the throngs of nameless tourists and locals never looking back at the unintended chaos they’ve created. Rome, with your gray skies and heartless cold, foggy streets under flickering lampposts rolling hauntingly beneath brown and red apartments with all of the windows shut up. Rome, with your limited technology limiting communication and unreliable transportation rendering us unable to penetrate the city walls, trapping us in the interior as the rest of the world goes on wondering and I, unable to communicate and alone find myself powerless to the confines of my own loneliness. But who was that person then?
It has been almost four years, Rome; four years since I vowed to never return and laughed in the face of the Trevi Fountain, holding tight to my euros as I rushed past, seeking shelter from your cold imperfections. But here I am again.
The city has not changed. The cobblestone alleyways wind in circles like the hypnotic eyes of the Cheshire Cat, the winding roads smiling and ensnaring lone wanderers through their private jokes, forcing them further into the depths of the city’s secrets. The people, who I had condemned as relentless and uncaring, I meet again as admirable and strong. They have not changed. They move from each moment to the next, but they can be still without a second thought. They were eager to give help when asked and I realize the problem was me. The sun is warm, even in winter and it’s almost like the city’s laughing at me once more. It reveals itself slowly, and I, unable to communicate am forced to observe. I am powerless to its charm and find it lazily simple to embrace the lonely entrapments of a city full of millions of untold stories.
“I walked through the city and found that it hadn’t changed. A wonderful feeling overcame me and I realized that meant I had.”
We meet again, Rome, but you barely recognize the terrified and stubborn traveller who arrived four years ago with a suitcase of expectation, a girl who believed home was a city 5,000 miles west, a person afraid to let go of the carefully maintained routine and comfortable lifestyle she left behind. It has been almost four years, Rome, and that traveller is happy to see you. I recognize my home in the unknown travesties you create and laugh with you as I wander lost and full of wonder through the secret places I will never fully understand.
And if my giant follows somewhere behind I do not notice, because these lonely thoughts are magically grounding, a beautiful reminder of the city’s historical mysteries and the millions of unwritten stories that exist in the never ending present.