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Monday, June 26, 2006

All that Glitters

Rome echoes with the honking of horns from all quarters as Italy scores in the latest World Cup game. Ambulances rush by in the street five stories down. People in the apartments across the courtyard are listening to… opera, the game, top-40 on the radio… an Italian talk-show… and again, the game. Cheering… calling… rushing… coughing… lives lived too close to my window.

I forget how much I like solitude and silence until a day like this hits, when the noise is incessant and I realize suddenly why I am unsettled, restless, and feel this need to escape.

I forget how much my heart feels at peace when it hears the breeze in the trees outside my office window at home.

I forget the joy I feel in sitting outside in my own back yard, watching my dogs chase birds they will never catch, and how the roses bloom red and orange and blue and white, and send their scent into the air, and how I can almost hear them turn to follow the sun.

I forget, when Rome surrounds me, what silence sounds like.

And then one day I find myself walking before the sun rises, before Rome is awake, when the dust in the Forum is undisturbed and I can pass through it and make no impression, as though I don’t exist at all. In the piazzas it is possible to hear the water tumbling from Bernini’s sculptures… and I hear my own soft footsteps echo in the Pantheon as I walk to the center of the multi-colored marble floor to watch the circle of light slowly traverse the ceiling.

I find the one open cafe in the city, and sit at a table surrounded by empty tables, and drink cappuccino slowly, and remember… silence sounds like this.

Rome breathes softly on mornings like this, waiting on the edge of day. Soon, it will remember what it has always been – a city of life and death and movement and sound – but for now, for a moment longer, I hear nothing but the sound of my own heart.


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