Thursday, November 4, 2010

and I remember how it felt.

... as I woke up early on Thursday mornings, bleary-eyed, still not quite recovered from the previous night's escapades playing Calcio and going out afterward for beer and pizza. As I crawled out of bed and gingerly stepped down the ladder attached to my top bunk, I attempted to be quiet to not wake Roommate Beth, but I secretly knew I was fighting a losing battle in our tiny dorm room. The cold marble floors underneath my feet helped awaken my senses, and the first bits of sunlight began to peek through our windows. It was time for another day in Rome.

I hurried to get ready, while still trying to maintain the silence of the early morning, as I pulled open the creaky drawer under Beth's bed to retrieve my clothes for the day, put in my contacts, threw up my hair, gathered up my possessions, and headed downstairs to meet my classmates to head downtown for Art In Rome class. (You'll notice there was no mention of taking a shower, but honestly, that was not even a consideration after my late evening the night before. When the decision is between sleep and being clean, unfortunately, sometimes the less hygienic option must prevail.)

As I walked with my classmates to the bus stop, we were mostly quiet, still waking up and taking in the day. There were always debates about which bus (the less reliable 990 or the more frequent 913) would get us closer to our destination in a timely manner, and we would stand waiting impatiently--just like the Americans we were and still are--for it to arrive once our decision had finally been made. The bus--just like the streets of the city centro--was usually crowded, and there always seemed to be that person who wanted to stand just a little too close to you for comfort; it's not like Italians are known for their sense of personal space. As we navigated our way around the city, the sun continued to rise, as well as the temperature. The bus began to feel a bit stuffy and claustrophobic, but in a slightly comfortable way. Just like the "real" Italians, we were part of the life of the city in that moment.

Eventually, we would arrive at our destination for the day's class, which usually consisted of some type of ancient Roman ruin or Baroque church. While at the beginning of the semester these places were always very exciting to us, by the mid-point of our time in Rome, we had grown relatively nonchalant about them. It was just another class we had to wake up entirely too early for, another struggle to stay awake, another few hours of note-taking, another weekly occurrence, one of the rare routines in our chaotic Roman lives. 

However, our first real order of business before class even began was one of humanity's most primitive needs: food and drink. We would scour the streets nearby for any sign of a cafe (known as a bar in Italy) and hurry off to satisfy our early morning urges for cornettos and cappuccino before class.

Eventually, we would all drag ourselves away from our impromptu breakfasts, collect the day's handouts, stick in our earpieces so we could hear our elderly, bald professor lecture in the midst of the crowds of tourists, and begin another day of classes. As we strolled around some of humanity's most beautiful creations, I would like to say that I spent my time in awe of these aesthetic masterpieces, but in reality, I spent most of my time wishing I was still asleep, looking forward to lunch at Mensa, or dreaming about where the next weekend would take me.

It was just another day in the life after all.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I remember how it used to feel.

Bet you didn't expect to hear from me again, huh?

Well, I'm not back in Rome. I'm still in St. Louis, still at SLU. In fact, it's been over 10 months since I left Rome (10 months and one week to be exact). And in these past ten months, a day hasn't gone by where I haven't thought about Rome, missed something about Rome, or been thankful for Rome.

That's what brings me back here today. The more time goes by, the more I realize how much I never wrote down about Rome and how much I still have yet to say.

When I started this blog, it was mainly to keep friends and family members updated about what I was up to over in Europe. As time went by, however, it morphed into something that I also did for me. If I'm honest, I have really missed blogging since last December.  So, I've decided to continue blogging about my experiences in Rome and Europe, but just for me this time.

Who says that a study abroad blog has to end as soon as you come back home? In fact, I would argue that it shouldn't end. No longer being in a place physically doesn't mean that you aren't still there on some level emotionally.

As Natalie Goldberg (and Hemingway) say, it takes time for us to process these types of things anyway:
It takes a while for our experience to sift through our consciousness. For instance, it is hard to write about being in love in the midst of a mad love affair. We have no perspective. All we can say is, ‘I’m madly in love,’ over and over again. It is also hard to write about a city we just moved to; it’s not yet in our body. We don’t know our new home, even if we can drive to the drugstore without getting lost. We have not lived through three winters there or seen the ducks leave in the fall and return to the lakes in spring. Hemingway wrote about Michigan while sitting in a cafĂ© in Paris. ‘Maybe away from Paris I could write about Paris as in Paris I could write about Michigan. I did not know it was too early for that because I did not know Paris well enough.'
--Natalie Goldberg in Writing Down the Bones 
So, here I am--to reflect, to remember, and most importantly to write about Rome and Europe again. Probably rather sporadically, but I know this is something that I need to do.