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Amber Paulen


From the bedroom windows where behind I spent the most years, the view was field and forest come summer or winter. Seasons were drama, the change in color, the angle of light or none, shadows on the snow of a mooned night. I learned much from those bedroom windows: a love of subtleties, of land, of space, of sky, of light. Harbored within me, it is inextricable from me, its peace and its not-peace, its truth.

Here I am then, living in a city; a different kind of city, no doubt. When I ask about people’s feelings for Rome, a special smile crosses their faces, as if they love it through their hate. In Rome there are no tall buildings, no economic center, but there are thousands of tourists that flood from a single wave. Rome has been a city all through the ages and its easy to think that somewhere back there it got stuck.

These thoughts came about because the other day I took a trip to Bracciano. Bracciano will always hang idyllic. In Bracciano, the streets are still in the afternoon and one can hear the birds upon waking, the smell of dust and figs in the summer is delicious, then there’s the perpetual view. Even now people remembered at least my face; memory must be longer there in the calmness.

In the city you are one among many, and there is pleasure in its anonymity. You walk a walk like all the others, riding through the wave of tourists. It is perhaps this that gives individual quartiere their charm, making a small town in the city. Within four blocks we’ve got a butcher, a baker, a ferramenta, a fruit and vegetable seller, we’ve got bars and old ladies and parks. When outside of these four blocks, who am I? Again, no one.

My favorite thing about this city in particular, are the walks that Rome affords. Not only are there walks past ancient ruins and gurgling fountains, past parades of tourists, but there is so much that is unexplored, so many unknown quartiere. For any ailment there’s walking, any thought that needs ironing, any energy that needs using: walking! By walking I first knew Rome and by walking I know it still. Walk the city day or night and probably on drunken mornings.

If I’m feeling ambitious I may do a series, the scale of which depends on the ambition. If only the internet wasn’t so inundated with most things pertaining to Rome, if literature wasn’t so inundated… I’m certainly not the first to have come and enjoyed this city and its ages.


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