Note to Myself: A Loft in Parioli

Parioli is one of Rome’s nicest neighbourhoods and one where my friend Elisabetta suggested that I get a loft. It is all a pretty lofty idea. Not really, and yes, and I am a dreamer. It had been over three years since I had been in Rome last, and then it was that I had a bit of work to do and added the weekend to visit with my friends. This time I skipped the work part and was in Rome just to visit them. I am the world’s lousiest tourist on most occasions, but I suspect that this is just a guise of mine.

Then a while ago in an attempt to catch up with my email, correspondence and all those pending items whose loud screams I have become deaf to, I wrote to Joan Schenkar the following words “I am in a fizz – if one can use such an expression, however that is how it feels – it is all bubbling from all over the place and it is good and crazy and wild, and I hope to see you soon! ” As a side note, Joan will be in Zurich on March 21 giving a talk within the Swiss National Library exhibit at the Strauhof presenting the work of Patricia Highsmith.

Why Rome? Why now? Why me?

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Clearly I have special and dear friends whom I visit in Rome. If I needed a pretext or excuse to go to Rome this time, I found it in my friend’s birthday. This was a trip that I had planned long ago, and that would have only cancelled if something major had called for my presence elsewhere. Alas, no such call came in!

I travel in strange ways, and most of the time totally oblivious to what is really going on, if anything outside of my mind ever does go on, that is. This time my eye kept on being caught by what seemed like ubiquitous billboards advertising the opening of a “In Memoria di Me” as the words seemed to speak directly to what I was doing in Rome and where I seem to find myself these days. I had no idea of what the film is about, and have only googled it minutes ago. From what I gather from the synopsis it could be that it is not even far off the mark, for all that I know and do not know.

While we were on the discussion of the loft, we also discussed the use of the term in both English and Italian, and in my understanding, it is not a one-to-one transaction in meaning. Still, I liked her idea of seeing me in Rome, and the idea surprised me more because it is one that I flirt with while making totally different plans that will take me more east west – Geneva is west! – than south of Berne. But then… when I returned to Berne last time, I did return with a very strange plan, and the plan was the writing of the story that I am writing now. I had absolutely no clue then that that plan – or was it a dream? – would take me through such a stochastic path. What are plans really? Is life anything but stochastic?

While in Rome had a most enjoyable and eye opening discussion with Rosario on the matter of econo-physics, something that he has dedicated himself to for the past four years or so. I am more interested in observing complex adaptive systems than anything else, my own personal interest in the stock market is at best for entertainment or academic, and indeed the stock market is one beautiful example of such a system. Physicist are lucky in that they have some of the tools that allow one to work with such systems and extract value from it. It is however not the sort of thing that I can explain in one or two sentences.

I am just not much in the mood for sharing all that was wonderful about these days of rest and nurturance in Rome. I will however add that something beautiful did happen on my trip back.

I had a flight from Ciampino scheduled to leave at 12 noon yesterday. I took the slow public transportation route to the airport, meaning one bus to Termini, a train to Ciampino train station, and another bus to the airport, and left my friends house shortly after 8. Ever the observer, I do love to be in the crowd and just watch what goes on. I got to Temini with plenty of time to get the 9:20 train, but just missed it because I had a last minute desire to do something at that train station that had a deep and private meaning to nobody but my own self. The next train was the one to Frascati at 9:52. The bus from Ciampino to the airport was late, supposedly it was due to leave at 10:20 but did not show up until after 10:40. By 11 I was actually at the airport and chek-in supposedly closed in 20 minutes. Plenty of time, by any standard. Still, I could not help it but to observe how some people were totally stressing themselves and running around all worried that they would somehow miss their flight – actually the same flight that I was on – and one young couple really struck me for they were quarreling about everything and anything and especially the girl was running around and being pushy, he was just stoic or annoyed. Now, there was a morning fog in Rome on Monday, and either Ciampino has no instruments for such conditions or something was not functioning properly, so there were flights that were delayed by six hours, and the airport being small, there was quite a confusion of people and huge long queues for both security and passport control.

Charming as I am, I end up often flirting with young men, this time he was six years old and traveling with his aunt and cousin to Basel. While we waited our delayed departure I had a most enjoyable time talking with a six year old boy and his two companions. He wants to be a pilot, so we discussed all of that, and it was fascinating to just be able to answer an inquisitive child’s questions of awe and curiosity. He also wanted to know all about me, even asked my age, and I told him all that I knew about myself and that satisfied his curiosity. The two hours of waiting just flew by, and I felt that I had been given a great gift, the curiosity of a child, and the patience to just be there.

While I have been walking around with an open heart, and while this is not necessarily the safest mode of being, it is certainly one that makes me feel very alive, present and grateful for each moment. I really do not know where my dreams will take me next. Will it be Parioli, Lausanne or Geneva? Whatever happened to that beautiful idea of Costa Verde?

Now that I have found myself, where will I call home? I really do not know. I am here now, and the dreams are becoming reality. I need to be able to dream.