Apr 5, 2006

ROME, Italy – "Pre-arrival jitters plague any Roman holiday. Will ghosts guide this trip? Will I gaze at the Campo dei Fiori and see only the Temple of Venus, where my ex-husband and I courted a dozen years ago? Will our fights and fears echo in this abandoned shell, the home where love's slow unraveling began?

No, no and no again, it seems.

The Eternal City is much too alive to kindly stop for me. My bête noires dissolve in the Tiber's thuggish current. I smile, buoyed by the horns, the kaleidoscope ruins, the pastel gelato puddling in the siesta heat.

In this place, I am somehow more than a sum of petty parts.

I brace against Rome's onslaught, solidifying down to the center. And then I crack that mold, cast away the fragments – cherry blossoms eddying in the breeze – and just exist, here, now, in the sun.

No, this city isn't haunted for me. Nor, on the other hand, is it entirely easy.

As old Eleanor said: "The ordinary traveller runs off in relief to Florence, to the single statement, the single moment of time, the charming unity of somewhat prisonlike architecture, and is aware later of having retained from his whizz tour of Rome some stirring around the heart, those images, huge, often grotesque, were what he had been looking for, only it would have take so long..."

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