From the ruins, comes life. And from both comes Rome.
Chaos and beauty. Noise and emptiness. Hoards of people and lonely travelers, like me.
I walked the city I once died for, living the exclusion and loneliness that followed me across the Ocean. I am mad at Rome. I stand at the bridge of Castel Sant’Angelo overlooking the Vatican.
I talk to her: I came here for you to fix me.
And she answered: You go places so they can fix you and finally find your track. And they can’t. That is your right and obligation. A curse and a blessing. Free will. Your responsibility.
When you see your life in ruins there is no one out there to blame. No place feels like home until we find it within ourselves.
I have no doubt about few stuff right now. First I do love Rome. Rome and I have been linked by destiny’s thread for a long, long time. Second I need to leave. I can’t stand its overwhelming weight on me. We are just too similar, too intense to cohabit. I need an environment that gives me stability, not chaos. And third, Rome means both to me: Ruin and life.
Last summer Rome gave me life again, it was like an electric shock. It resurrected me.
After such a long wait, we met. We were living in each other for many years.
When I first got to Rome I felt in the top of the world. I was so bored of my comfortable life in New Orleans. Like I was bored of my early life in Buenos Aires. I arrived to Rome feeling brand new. A new start. Ready and with the best attitude to reset my life. Almost a year has gone by and I am not the same one that arrived.
I saw Rome real face, the one you see when you live here… Or is it my true face? It is amazing how a place can change depending on who sees it, or under what circumstances we see it. When I was here on vacations for a summer everything was shiny and new, happy and colorful. Now the gray took over, the faces stopped smiling, the coffee became too strong, the expenses to high and the noise unbearable.
Like in any other relationship, when sh*t start getting real that is when you test what your love is made of. I have no doubt of my love for Rome. But I like it better from the distance. Like that bad boyfriend you loved so much that it hurt, and his overwhelming presence made you so weak that you need to love him from far away.
Rome and I went through all the stages of a relationship. And we arrived to the point where we cant stand each other. It was fast. But that is how things work in Rome right? As in strong and passionate love affairs. Accelerated and chaotic.
We are too similar. Rome and I. We have to maintain distance. That is how our love gets to live.
If we are together we will end up destroying each other. Once again, as all the major past relationships in my life… This love is ambiguos.
This is an amazing, incredible, and lively city. It has it all. All the chaos. All the food. All the pleasure. It is a huge messy melting pot. Like me. Except that I am not that woman anymore.
Like those old bad love stories of the past that made us feel the rush of intense passion, Rome cannot give me what I need. Rome is Rome. And like we can’t change that old boyfriend, I can’t change Rome. But Rome did changed me.
It made me realize what I want, who I am, and who I want to be.
We grew apart, Rome and I. I am not that chaotic self anymore.
So what is Rome?
The chaos I hear every day, the non stopping claxon, the implacable sound of the ambulances, the screams the yells and the curses Italians throw at each other, the smell of the coffee, the pushing people, the barks, the tourists, the cobbled streets, the dirt, the alleys full of motorcycles…
The delayed autobuses, the packed metros, the never-coming trams. The churches. The holiness of the Vatican, ignored by hoards of tourists who shot 100 pictures a minute without really seeing. The expensive life, and the old infrastructure of this ancient city.
Rome was glorious. And has that attitude of an old and retired emperor.
A majestic past that became ruins.
The history is so latent, like an old dying heart. Suffocated by the noise, the motorcycles, the people, the dirt. The magnificent atmosphere of an ancient civilization that never really changed. Rome still being that old Rome. That chaotic Rome. Those colossal white buildings and palaces of Imperial Rome surrounded by slums and trash and homeless people who ate like rats the leftovers of the great emperors.
And still… I love her. Even after seeing her ugly face, I adore her. That bad side that also lives in me. In all of us.
Because at the end Rome and I are one. Our destinies threaded by the same strand. Rome is a part of me like New Orleans and Buenos Aires are. They built who I am today.
A place truly becomes my home when I love AND hate it at the same time. When I see its bad, but honest, side. That is when I know is home. When I decide to leave.
The chapter with Rome may have been a short one, but like in real life, the shortest stories are usually the most intense and determinant ones. This was as passionate, furious and wild, as Rome. At the end life is just all those moments we lived put together.
We will meet again in the future. When I will be me but not quite myself, and you will be Rome but at another time and place.
Roma non è una città. Roma è un mondo – Goethe
Rome is not a city. Rome is a world – Goethe