Life as a yellow peg in Rome
“The yellow peg slipped easily from my fingertips. I watched as it spiralled to it’s demise. The unclean concrete below had become a meeting ground for others just like the yellow one; a coloured playground. Today the yellow could meet yesterday’s friend the green one.
‘Ciao’, a morning voice broke my concentration. It was my neighbour at the window in front of me, armed with washing and a handful of pegs. ‘Oh, ciao Monica’, we often met here at the same hour of the day, in the same pose. I continued to hang my laundry on the pulley system that had been created in this long trim courtyard in the centre of our apartment building.
‘Merda’, I heard Monica blaspheme as her pure white t-shirt drifted to the ground to play in the coloured playground. None of us ever rescued the pegs but clothing, well that was another story. Once retrieved it would be covered in dirt and grime. It happened to me once,frightened and vulnerable enveloped in the stale confines of the building, I’d grabbed my white singlet top streaked with dust and blackness and run up the four flights of stairs without stopping. They said rats lived below.
How I longed for a hills hoist. The laundry looked so happy hanging there as it twisted and turned, partying in the wind. I would watch it for hours when I went home on holidays. Watched it baking in the sun, whites whiter than white. The fresh and clean smell of happy laundry is something not easily forgotten.
The sun never reached the courtyard, my laundry couldn’t dance in the wind or frollick as it spun around. It wasn’t happy like the laundry back home.”
A sea of cobbled streets
The gypsy’s perspective is one that is not acknowledged on the cobbled streets of Rome.They are regarded as beggars and thieves. Maybe this is a fragment of what their lives might resemble if we were to walk in their shoes:
Mother of four children
Lives in a caravan in the outskirts of Rome.
Gravely ill with MS (undiagnosed)
” I can hardly take a breath under here. The black hood covers my head as I inhale the filth of the cobbled road beneath me. The winter chill has possessed my bones and I am chronically sick. I have walked kilometres in the last few days. What I own is on my back, my feet are worn and dirty. They jeer me you know, they think I am vermon, they don’t know where I have come from and how much sufferance I endure. To them I am faceless, the beggar with no identity. Some toss me a few coins, others ignore me and one or two tut-tut as they pass. I hear them beneath my layered rags. I hear the words, the blasphemy. My numb hands rolled into fists are practically lifeless but my hearing is faultless.
When approaching footsteps hasten I know they will not stop or look my way but when the footsteps hesitate and then slow to a halt I know there is a chance the odd coin will be thrown my way.
They don’t know where I have come from and how much sufferance I endure”.
Santa Prisca, the Aventine church in Rome
“If I stood in one spot for this long there was a reason. Studying the oil painting, in the small and humble church of Santa Prisca in Rome, was mesmerising. I was transfixed, the detail in his cumbersome hands, the pain, the anguish and the solace in his virtuous face. How could it be that there was pain and solace? Broken fingernails caked with dirt and hardship. Yet his face was serene, perfect even as his head tilted upwards. I was the intruder as I stood unable to shift my gaze from the beauty before me.
The chatter of a group of tourists broke the silence. The adolescents whispered and sniggered behind faces that quite simply were unable to appreciate the significance or majesty of what was before them, juxtaposed by the modesty of the tiny church the oil painting was a masterpiece, hopefully one day they would recall the importance of their brief visit.”
Leaving behind the eternal city…
As an adjunct to yesterday’s blog ‘Country Touched’ I thought it opportune to talk about how I came to spend a year in Tasmania.
After much deliberation and careful planning which included selling our apartment in Rome, giving up our jobs (we were both self employed) and with a six year old and a babe in arms we took on the high spirited challenge to come to Australia to live permanently. We brought some worldy possessions with us in a container which arrived 6 weeks after us. Fortunately, we were able to live in mum and dad’s B&B which was fully equipped with everything. It was a great way to start.
For me it was a return to my homeland and for my Roman husband it was leaving behind his.
It is not easy to leave one’s home. What remains is the residue of token moments shredded into fragmented recall of time spent with family and friends. One tends to live in the past constantly reminiscing about what was and what was left behind. Don’t get me wrong taking the plunge and leaving your country is because you crave the adventure and something new or different from what you know. At least that was what it was for me when armed for adventure I left Australia. But after 10 years living in a foreign country. Which was always a foreign country even though I did call it home for 10 years it was not the country I was born in or did it have my close knit family. After the birth of my son, my second child, I felt alone and depressed partly because the hormones had kicked in with vengeance but also quite simply I missed the simplicity of the simple Australian life. I was born and bred in Sydney but when mum and dad purchased a thoroughbred horse stud in the North West of Tasmania, I fell in awe of the country life and land every time I holidayed with my little girl.
So now I’ll take you back to yesterday’s blog and hope that today it may make more sense to those who had wondered where it all began or how it had become….
In Rome getting close to nature is impossible and when you eventually come into contact with it, you are in essence ‘Country Touched’.
If my first novel memoir ever gets published then I do have plans to write a book about my year in Tasmania down the beaten track because it was an adventure splashed with the exploration of unknown territory in a little isle perched closest to Antarctica.
Thanks for reading…