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Amber Paulen


13 May 2010


Today is Thursday, which means that this morning was the third morning in this apartment. Each of these three mornings I have woken up and laughed; I’m laughing still, with San Clemente’s bells solemnly tolling and the white clouds lazily drifting and Rome’s cobblestones like a carpet. I can’t help but find it hilarious that right now, this is where I’m living.

Whether it is the inside of these walls or the outside that I find extraordinarily funny, it doesn’t matter, for they both amuse me the same. That there are walls wherein I can hear the echo of this typewriter striking would be enough. But I am surrounded by Roman excesses, so that when I lean from a window I should throw myself from it to save me from certain laughter.

When I lean from a window and look down onto the carpet of Roman cobbles, I am given a bird’s-eye-view of the unfolding day’s machinations. Tourists stutter on the street corner clutching their maps as they eye, either with awe or scorn, the elegantly passing Italians. Looking a little higher is the afore mentioned San Clemente whose thin iron cross stands forlorn and bleak against the—hopefully parting—leaden grey sky.

I can sit at the kitchen table for hours, if I want to, watching the fruit and vegetable lady. Planning out dinner by her tempting array of colors, until I work up enough steam to go out and buy some. I can study roofs, roofs galore and roof architecture. Out the small window, slightly above where I sit to write, is some bulbous brick edifice that seems old enough to outdate my grandma’s grandma and her grandma too.

And all this is to say nothing about the apartment’s insides, with its two floors of wore terra-cotta and enough space and light to live and work in. Finding as much joy in this place as I have, makes me wonder about the two elements within me that seem totally contrasted. To write one needs at least some quiet space and at most a quiet mind. It is very difficult to focus on any long work when you can’t stretch out to meet it. To travel, one needs only the means and the motivation to begin.

I questioned myself, as I relentlessly do, about the giddy excitement I felt carrying boxes up four flights of stairs, the happiness in placing books on shelves and now, the blessed relief in being able to sit down and work. I am answered with a bunch of maybes: maybe I need this time in Rome? Yes, I need to write and work and finish this goddamned thing I’ve started. So be it! I’ve got a view of the Colosseum! And if ever, dear reader, during the next eight months you come to the Eternal City, drop me a note and maybe I’ll invite you up for a cup of coffee.



Commentary for Rome


1 On Tuesday 18 May 2010 kimberly wrote:

Invite me up for coffee!
So excited for you guys. I feel the tension drifting away, even in your writing. Let’s chat tomorrow, or the next. I want to hear first hand how everything is!

Love to you!


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