These days I have been seeing Rome; having flashbacks to a city in another part of the world as I’m living my life here. My quarantine was spent there: two months between the same walls day and night non-stop. Seeing gray. Forgetting color except for the occasional grocery excursion. I’ve been seeing Rome again these days even after coming home – because after having been stuck inside for so long, my weekends were spent walking the city for hours. I got to know the place. I became accustomed to routes, looking at destinations and not needing my map anymore. I knew how the light climbed between buildings and illuminated my skin, and how the sun worked it’s way through the gaps and wrapped me in it’s aura. Light from the sun was how I hoped for the future, how I dreamed, and now I’m seeing the same light across an ocean. When it rises to the trees behind my house at golden hour, I see into a corner of Rome at the same time: light hitting the same angle, resounding the same colors. For a moment my brain takes me there and it’s completely real. A moment later, it’s gone, the memory only flickering, and I remain dumbstruck, because for a second I was in another place. Eventually I regather my composure.

This is the after-effect of my time in Italy, scenes so ingrained in my mind from countless hours of escape from grayness on the streets of the city. Attached to these memories are powerful emotions: with days slowly growing longer in quarantine, my hope grew with it, along with the promise of living on my own in the not-too distant weeks. Walking around Rome, I slowly discovered a deep fulfillment inside, being free from judgement, living alone for the first time in my life, savoring that independence I had only weeks before, yearned.