The sun in a baby blue sky warms the cold, worn, chocolate-gray stone of Rome’s pantheon as the amorous couples, the bone-tired parents pushing bawling children in overloaded strollers, flock like crows to dazzling stones, wishing, wanting to capture in memory and on memory cards the brutal, peaceful, tyrannical, blood-soaked history seen by the tight-lipped marbled Corinthian columns.
I found a good vantage point in a café of some repute and as soon as my backside made the chair creak a raven-haired, youthful waiter approaches.
“Que te gustaria senor.”
“Un café y un croissant por favor.” The waiter’s quick get-away speaks volumes: my Italian is improving. I shall be, a pale proxy, yet a Roman nonetheless.
About to take a deep breath to relax my body after a tiring walk in the heat when the peaceful bustle of the square is split by a clamorous group of uniformed children lead and followed by matronly senoras. In one far-flung memory leading to another, I found reverie in my scrappy boyhood and jaunts into deep backwoods to escape the prairie heat and dusty winds of summer. Why this and not the school yard frolic, or outings to factories, museums, picnics, bowling or competitor institutions to show off the might of our basketball/football/soccer/volleyball prowess.
An involuntary sigh brought my shoulders back, my chest out. A prideful action infused with an unpleasant dichotomy as delving into memory of youth is to dagger another scar upon the aging soul. At fifty how much nearer one is to extinction than at that jovial, boundless energy of youth. Now this morose impression floods my eyes salty, burdens my shoulders with forgotten regret and loss. How can this be? In the depth of Rome’s soaking history, charm and multitudes of humanity, how can one feel so all-alone?