Wednesday, July 27, 2011

In the Taxis of Rome, We Whisper of Utoya

With a map of Rome in my back pocket, creased and wrinkled and etched in scribbled notes, we load our backpacks full of water bottles and green apples and head out to Trevi Fountain.
Such blue is the sky, bluer than dreams, bluer than imagination. People have always looked into my eyes and said, such blue like the sky. Today, I feel it is just for me.
In the taxi the driver is Giuseppe. He tells me he comes from the Florentine family, that his ancestors have been in Rome since the days of the Republic, and that he also has two boys of his own. He points at the Campidoglio and the Piazza Venezia, he laughs at my three daughters, putting his fingers together like he’s squeezing a grape, “Mama mia tres bambinas.”
He tells me the story of Trevi, how it is said that a young virgin led her village of early Romans to fresh water, how if you throw a coin in the fountain it will ensure your return. He said thousands of Euros are thrown every day and thus the crowds… he winks.
He wasn’t kidding. Just getting to the fountain can be an art. Down side streets and dodging pedestrians and horse carriages and busy vendors, the taxi tires hoping over the cobblestones. I roll down the window and let the cool summer air into the backseat. All of us smiling.
But our hearts are heavy today. Eyes glued to the hotel television set at this madman, this insane lunatic who opened fire on children and workers at the Norwegian Island of Utoya It was on Guiseppe’s mind as well.
“How could this be?” He asked. “What kind of world is it for fathers and mothers who send their children out into the world with hopes for their safety?”
I understood. I understood so well. We must hold our children ever so close, if they are to have moments like this, promises like this, dreams such as throwing coins in fountains so that one day they will return.
The world is lost to many of us. To others it is if they never lived at all. Even now the stories of the British press are dominated by the drugged out death of this former “winehouse” star or which politician knew of phone hacking and which didn’t. When the attention should be on living. Remembering the dead whose eyes are not blue but red raw. Yes, we are smiling, but only because we are so happy to be alive.

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