When you're a child, you believe in fairies. In enchantments. In happily-ever-after. In magic.
As you age, the world becomes much faster and there is less room for imagination. Everything runs past you in a blur because you're racing to get to the next checkpoint. "I can't wait for my vacation. I just need this busy time at work to be over. Then, I'll be happy."
But you're not. You get stuck in the cycle of looking forward to something instead of looking at what's going on around you.
This past week in Rome, I rediscovered how my world looked through the rose-colored lenses I had as a kid.
I arrived in the Eternal City in a taxi, bags under my eyes and mascara smudged on my face as a result of the nap I had on the plane. Scooting my little RyanAir-approved bag along the gravel, I came across the most stately, gorgeous house I'd ever seen in real life. The Latin writing on the outside made it all the more impressive. I looked at the house number, and indeed it was the residence of my friend, Marco, with whom I was to stay.
The inside was more grandiose. I proceeded inside to meet the family that inhabited this gorgeous estate. Though Marco's parents didn't speak English, they are some of the warmest people I know and welcomed me into their home, no questions asked. They loved to make their own wine and pasta. I couldn't stop smiling because of how they included me, even though I don't speak Italian. I've never felt so comfortable in someone else's house. I felt like a kid again, going to a "play date" for the first time.
Marco lives right in the middle of the historical area, walking distance away from the Coliseum and Circus Maximus. I couldn't believe his life. He grew up among ruins and history. I grew up in good 'ole C-Town, but its main "historical landmark" is the water tower. There's no comparison.
Marco showed me around the city, mentioning historical tidbits along the way. As I marveled the antiquity of my surroundings, he laughed at my awe-stricken face. We got along well, just like when two kids split the two-stick popsicles on a hot summer day. I realized how simple things such as sharing food could bring people closer together.
Seeing all the famous landmarks in Rome made me feel as if I were thrown into a picture-book; all the photos I'd seen and history I'd read about came to life in front of me. Each landmark became a tangible object, and the only comparison that could come to my mind was that of a child visiting Disneyland for the first time. All that excitement and wonder flooded back to my mind, stirring my imagination in a way that I am not able to describe in a blog entry.
You'll just have to experience it, my dear friends. Then you'll feel the complete and utter happiness that only travel and childhood can bring. You can discover magic again.
Just get on a plane and go.