I thought, there, where all this began, I might find something of before. Some treasure, some sign… some relic of a former life. In a way I was totally right. In a way I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I found a skeleton, all flesh decayed and returned to dust. It seems time does not preserve transitory things such as joy or the skins of memory. My heart mellowed. Yet I saw sunlight as I turned away, streams of naked light skidding across The Waste. I saw it, if only for a moment… there was still something left, a flash of lightning for the retina of the mind.
They say you cannot repeat a thing, that things are never the same twice. Perhaps they are right… perhaps I’ve been travelling in circles all this time. Or, perhaps, like a detective retracing his steps, I needed some sort of proof… a clue to help me find where the miracle first began; or to find where it first started to go wrong.
Naples. June 2019.
It was a very good year, to quote Frank. Indeed it was. It started off like all good years do – with a lot of trouble, trial and difficulty to overcome. But you know by now, don’t you, that to start a fire you must first feel the longing to burn? To take up arms and move out of the battlefield you must first taste a defeat, a victory or a surrender. Something has to start, from something else. We are a part of Creation after all, not beyond it. Cause and effect; happens on all levels, yet many remain blinded to it even at the simplest level. A tree comes from a seed, a seed from a fall, a dance from a song, an ocean from that first tiny droplet… to really fly you must first feel the suffocation, the life underground, the binding of wings. At least that is how things are in our world, under current dominion… that is how I have seen the world.
As I travelled through Italy I found myself of course heading more and more south as the weeks passed. I had after all started in the North. I hit Naples and finally found some sun, made a few companions for a time, breathed in that noise, that dust, that age. A place I’d longed to see.
(see video at bottom of page)
I spoke a lot of Italian here, mainly with local friends like Domenico. It was good practice. My tongue found itself wrapping nicely around those rippling Rs and curling Ls after some time. I loved telling my roommate Simon tales from many years of travel, watching his eyes light up like lamps with each hair-raising detail. I saw a glimpse into a way of life here, of a people; the edifice of the current age. I made a mark, stalking through dark empty streets in the earliest hours lit by moon and lamp light, with friends I knew for only a time, yet those, as all companions made on any sort of journey, made immortal in the organ between heart and mind.
Like all good agents I packed up my things and made my leave as soon as I’d got what I needed. The train brought me swiftly to Rome as the sun still glowed brightly in the sky. There isn’t always time to reflect on things as you live within them. Eyes are always on the next horizon, and how to get there. A strange sort of balance between careful calculation and complete caprice.
But Rome… oh Rome. How was I back here so many years later? It was never my intention to stop here although it was of course inevitable. All roads lead to Rome after all. Tomorrow I would fly to Athens. But today I would roam Rome; Rome of old, a hunting ground my feet knew all too well.
I can’t really say this Rome was anything like Rome was for me in days gone by, and yet, it still had that Rome smell, the ‘white noise of the city’ formed somewhere between the Metro, the constant babble of passersby, and the symphony of honks and sirens of the ancient metropolis.
Sitting in one of my favourite squares I watched, as sky fought to keep its blue, great fountains hushed and splattered out of every monument, as children fluttered around like butterflies searching for pretty things to land upon, and Rome remained the eternal city it had always been. Entirely different and entirely the same.
editor’s note – Rome video should also read June ’19 not May… I guess that’s the funny thing about time – it’s always passing… a fact for which I am extremely grateful, and equally contrite…
Ad Astra <3
Here’s a video diary from Modena too. Why not? Viva Italia!