Why Rome (part 4)

Posted: June 30, 2019 in Uncategorized

There are five Saturdays in June.

As this post goes live, I’ll be finishing up packing. For me, there is a ritual for it. There is a backpack that I salvaged from an old job, that has been with me everywhere — from my first trip to DC almost a decade ago — and will be coming with me. There is the addition of a black roller bag that joined me on last year’s journey to Galway, Ireland. I wish I didn’t need it. But a month is too long with only a few changes of clothes.

The clothes get rolled. The electronics go in a bag, that go into their pocket. My stainless steel water bottle, which has sat forlornly next to my sink for months, will go in it’s place. The day backpack has a home, the laptop, the iPad, the headphones, the chargers. I have a jacket that I got for my first trip to the United Kingdom that I do not know if I will take — I love it, but it is heavy. Perhaps too heavy for the Mediterranean. There is my grey baseball cap, a replacement for the first one lost in Ireland. I hope it will be better broken in.

Leave taking is sacred, and I think and dream and pray as each item goes in its place. It feels like a mantra made with my hands, letting the world go, pulling silence in with each inhale.

Why Rome?

I went to Ireland for the first time as part of a program through my graduate program. They spend a week in a suburb of Dublin called Howth, in a bed and breakfast overlooking the sea. I went, because carpe diem, and why not? My life fell apart somewhere during that trip. I lost my job of nine years as I sat in a hostel in Sligo after climbing a mountain. After…

On the road to hell was a railroad line..

I left Howth earlier than planned, sharing a taxi with my new friend Maxene. We were going different directions, but when I hopped out of Connolly Station, I booked an earlier train to Belfast than planned. There was a cover band playing at the station singing Journey songs. I took the earlier train north to Belfast. Because one of my favorite Elton John songs sang about it, and as a teenager growing up in the woods of New Hamsphire, it had spoken to me.

Scrolling through social media, I started chatting with a guy who liked lasagna. I told him we should hang out, I was only in town for a couple of days. That it would change his life.

And in a lot of ways, that weekend with Hugh, in fact, changed my life. In the way of all travelers, I thought I was in love with him. And in the way of all such experiences, it never really existed outside of a time and a place. There’s that idea again — that some things can only exist at a certain time, in a certain place. But what it did took a long time to understand.

Hugh was the first person I’d met outside of my teenage years that I felt like the idea of “forever” could be possible, that I *wanted* it to be possible. A new idea, me? The world changed since then. I’ve changed since then. But that weekend set up goal posts for the last few years.

Galway was Hugh’s favorite city in Ireland. I wanted to know why. I spent a month there last summer. We talked about Rome and how beautiful it was, and i’ll spend a month there this summer, walking along the Tiber, thinking about the stories we tell — and live — we need to live our stories as well — at a certain place, in a certain time.

It’s important to be clear that I’m not in love with a guy I met on a long weekend two years ago. But what seemed possible before Belfast and what seems possible after Belfast are drastically different. It is as much a watershed moment in my life as that night on the bridge in the dark. I’m seeing a great guy, who makes me laugh. He’s carting me to the airport and watching my cat while I’m gone. But this relationship is only possible because of those places, those times that have led me here.

So, as I prepare to go, as I prepare to leave and think and dream again, i’ll be thinking of these things, pulling in on my thoughts of past times where I’ve left what I know for something that I need to learn, new places to make my own. And that feels right, and proper.

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