When in Rome...
Do as tourists.
Well, I'm back from Europe, and it was amazing. Irish Salsa does Europe. Early Retirement for 2007 is officially over. It was much shorter than last year's, and about as expensive. But so much better. After Paris we shuffled over to Florence, Italy. One of my new favorite places on the planet. I could live there. No lie. It was so neat. And laid-back. I mean it was touristy and busy in that sense, but the culture was so laid-back. I think I must have Italian in me. And on the topic of other ethnicities I have a hunch I am secretly composed of, I think I'm part Asian too. I could live off of rice. And I don't mean that in a mean way towards Asians. I just love fried rice!
Maybe I'll start a sister website... ItalianFriedRice.com
Back to retirement. It was amazing. And I went to Rome! I loved it! The history always sucks me in. For two days I was re-living, re-treading old Roman steps. Monuments reduced to rubble and memories now paved under roads of asphalt and street lights. 2,000 year-old conversations still hung in the wind around places I walked, their owners once dancing the streets that are now ancient history. Rocks that were just rocks before Christ, are monuments to Time and History and Mystery now. A ruined city. A buried treasure.
I stood and watched the excavation of parts of The Forum. I could've stayed for hours. You could feel the city rumbling to life. The newest hints of light, the newest glimmer of hope. Like the Colosseum, neglected for centuries until it was rediscovered in the middle ages, what else is still hidden in the depths of Time? The Colosseum was by far my favorite. I wanted to stay all day. I hoped that if I sat long enough, concentrated hard enough, listened close enough, maybe I could still hear the faint bustling of the anxious crowd on its way to their seats. The distant clanging of gladiator swords. The thunderous cheers for their favorites. I found myself lost in entertainment, one last hoorah for the ancient arena.
I bought a map of the city as it was in its glory days, no doubt some archeologists' recreation. After I bought it, I realized it did me little good, because other than The Colosseum, I had no idea what or where anything was. But it's ok. I'll act like I do. And I'll trust that I walked those streets and climbed those hills and roamed those buildings now housed as only ruins.
Paris was nice. Not my favorite, but it wasn't miserable. It was much busier than Florence, as any major city would be. But I think I liked Italy better because the language was so much easier. So much more like Spanish. French was very foreign. And the French weren't particularly friendly to foreigners. Except around Normandy. They love Americans; I even saw an American flag. And I loved Normandy; walking around trying to find old bullets or shrapnel or anything that whispered "June 6, 1944." I found nothing but abandoned bunkers and 60 year-old craters. And an endless playground for my boyhood fantasies.
I was even in England for a day or two. Dover, England. It's across the English Channel from France, and it had a huge castle. Right on the white cliffs of Dover. It had secret tunnels underground that were used during different wars. The castle and cliffs were mazes twisted with miles of tunnels. I wandered within the body of the cliffs, wanting to embrace the exhiliration of ending its lonliness. I never strayed too far from the tour-guide, but I never doubted I could handle the chambers' enticing echoes to go play. To explore. To find Adventure.
Secret tunnels. Abandoned bunkers. Ancient ruins. I found myself deep in the recesses of History's mind, indulging mysteries and memories so easily forgotten. But not by me.
Because it's History. And it's so good for the soul.