Updated: Feb 24, 2021
Dawn had just broken through the clouds when a chilled droplet of rain fell from above, leaving a trail of dampness down the side of my cheek. It was January and the sky appeared rather melancholy, assumedly from the years of pollution that had tarnished its former purity. I have only been in Rome for a week now, but I could sense a smile emerging beneath my mask, as I was thinking of the pleasure that I would feel once I was face-to-face with the Colosseum.
My footsteps fall in sync with the rhythm of fellow passersby as I meander the various alleyways of The Eternal City. My heart races at the sound of ambulances and vespas as they whizz by, which is a feeling that I have already grown accustomed to. The aroma of fresh pizza makes my nostrils sing as a stream of cool air passes through my direction. As I continue on, I can begin to see Rome’s colossal jewel emerge before my very eyes. One of the luxuries of traveling during a pandemic is that my eyes can survey an entire space and there will hardly be anyone in sight.
I tilt my neck back and lift my head upwards so that I can fully grasp the sheer enormity of the Colosseum. A lone seagull circles above as I peer up at the sky, which makes me wonder what it might feel like to have a birds-eye view. The dreary tones of the morning sky provide a sinister contrast against the aging browns of the ancient wonder. I was finally here, awestruck and standing in utter disbelief. This moment reminds me of my younger self, who had stood here with the same inspired look on her face twelve years ago. It was a moment that seemed to have collapsed time altogether, making me wish that I was still that young girl untarnished by the world. I look to my left and then I look to my right, and I recognize no one except for the loneliness that I feel in this very moment--a kind of loneliness that only the passage of time can seemingly bring about. Those feelings of inspiration and awe that had previously presided over me, have now left me distant and uncertain of where I stand. A jewel of Rome, indeed, yet the Colosseum now represents something much different for me--a shell of what once was and a daunting realization of what lies ahead.