There’s No Seed Inside My Chest, Just Loose Words

I’ve been home for a few days now, and every day someone asks me how my stay in Rome was. “It was really fun,” I always tell them for lack of better words. This is almost always received with a moment of perplexed silence and a confused stare. Some people even go so far as to say with incredulity: “you were in Rome for an entire month, and it was just fun?” Which makes me wonder what response they’re looking for. Do they expect me to say something overdramatic with tears streaming down my cheeks? “It was the most amazing experience of my life and I feel a seed inside my chest that has started to germinate into an amazingly glorious flower!”

When I feel the need to justify my description of Rome as being “really fun”, I then say, “it was a very intense five weeks because my professors were slave-drivers.” The response is then a look of shock and a comment to the effect of: “Oh… You were taking classes?” Everyone seems to think that I was spending my days going to the beach, dancing over rolling Tuscan hillsides and idly touring various Roman monuments at my own pace, and while it’s true that I had hoped living in Rome would be a relaxing break from classes, working, and paying bills, my main reason for going was to take intensive classes to improve my writing. The only day I had free to go to the beach and run through over Tuscan hillsides was Sunday- which is not long enough of a day to leave the city, enjoy my destination and return for class early Monday morning. Every day other than Sunday consisted of three to four hours of intensive walking around and paying attention to lectures in the morning; a four hour break to walk home, eat lunch, and do homework; and then four to sometimes five- or even six- hours of evening class in a hot and stuffy room with fans that managed to make the air hotter and windows that opened to vents which spewed out air from the stale pits of hell.

But despite the class hours and the requirement to sit still in a room on sharp Ikea chairs in heat-decayed air, I lived a life free from the drudgeries of habit and comfort and enjoyed a city unlike any I’ve seen. I was able to live in that city for a month and see beneath the ancient patina of massive monuments into a world invisible to those who visit for a small time. I spent hot Sunday afternoons eating gelato on fountain steps facing an empty Pantheon, weekday afternoons lounging and writing in a dark bedroom shut against the heat, and early mornings running over uneven cobblestones and yelling greetings to pink-eyed merchants watering plants and scrubbing windows. I also enjoyed many warm evenings sitting on the concrete banks of the Tiber River drinking wine and tequila, my drunken eyes trying in vain to track the quick movements of bats darting under and over a pedestrian bridge.

Last night, while waiting for a second pitcher of margarita slush to appear, a friend asked me to tell him the worst things I experienced in Rome. I was able to answer him with the three worst memories of my trip in a matter of minutes. Another friend became irritated and asked why we were talking about the negative aspects, and my friend answered: “because it’s obvious most of her trip was fun, and that it would take too long to talk about all of the cool things she saw during her month there.” And as absurd as it may sound, he’s right for now. Maybe later, as the memories of Rome become less vivid, I’ll be able to tell someone that my trip was more than “really fun”. But for now, if you ask me how my trip was, don’t be surprised when I answer, “it was really fun.”


  1. First Post!