A letter home from a memorable holiday

Ellen Hickey

Dearest Mom and Dad,

Well, I met a gladiator today. Ok not a real one, but close enough. Alfonso was a grand old chap who works part-time as a human tourist attraction, he wore a toga fashioned of cotton that was a little tight around the middle if you catch my drift, but he was very welcoming and he knew a lot of history regarding ancient Rome. Rome is known as the eternal city, the capital of the world. Everything seems to begin and end here. On one hand it is chock full of so much history, aqueducts and statues, temples worshipping forgotten deities…, while on the other hand there are high rise buildings and eateries such as MacDonalds and K.F.C. fill the streets, don’t even get me started on the traffic! As I walk the worn-down cobblestones, no longer rough and hewn, but smooth from the millions of people who have experienced this city before me, I always feel as though I am in a different era, a time where everything was simpler. I can almost see Apollo riding his chariot across the sky, bringing with him the sun and daytime and gracing the world with the gift of music. I can hear the chimes and hooves of Diana’s hunt stampeding across the city, the clash of swords and the roar of animals that must have been an everyday occurrence here.

This haven of history, filled with buildings and sculptures that have endured thousands of years, seen millions of lives pass by them baffles me beyond compare. The streets in Rome are a cacophony, loud and noisy but still managing to be beautiful. People hustling and bustling about, tourists stopping in the middle of the pathways to take pictures. Locals selling watches and bracelets and other forgettable goods. Men adorned in costumes of by-gone eras parading around the streets and re-enacting scenes from ancient times. So much commercialism in the heart of a historical and timeless city. The flow of the Tiber river is enchanting, therapeutic almost. The serene body of water where Romulus and Remus were left to fend for themselves, a river where wars were waged and victories were had. How can something so full of life lull one to a dreamlike state? Every direction I turn brings with it something new for my eyes to absorb. On every corner, there are musicians, music that draws one to stop, if just for a moment to listen, really listen and try to comprehend the beauty of it. Now, as I am on my flight home, and sitting beside Bill the human barf machine, I find myself wanting to turn back, wanting to go and live out my days in Rome. I could use it as a base from which to travel all over Italy. I’d have to stock up on a lot of sun cream but maybe after a few years my skin would adjust and I’d start to tan and not freckle. I could eat pizza all day every day and maybe get a job as a tour guide.

But I suppose in the end I’d miss Ireland with its green grass and enchanting culture. For now, I’m just going to go home and see where my life takes me.

Love your loving daughter,