baptized by fire

“baptized by fire” by Samual “S” Pawlowski @sfinessin of @fiuinstagram

As any journey starts, one plans and plans again to diminish any chance of error. I started my experience of Rome as helpless as Remus and Romulus when set in the Tiber River. My misfortune struck when my phone service did not work. For a brief moment, I was consumed in the chaos that is Termini. Signals blared. Unfamiliar faces passed. The tides of stress pulled back as waves of calm crashed as I found my way. The blessings of technology can be overlooked until they are gone. Thankfully I found Wi-Fi and was on my way. I survived.

In Rome, I am lost. Lost in the thrill of it all. The breathtaking monuments leave bystanders awestruck. The ability of the monuments to render bystanders speechless can be compared to Medusas ability to strike a man into stone. Itโ€™s inescapable.

The Palatine Hills encapsulate the way one lived 2000 years ago. The Palatine Hills include the Emperorโ€™s Palace, The Forum, and many temples. At the base of The Palatine Hills sits the Colosseum, a juxtaposing design. While emperors reigned high from The Palatine Hills; slaves turned into gladiators fought for their lives below. The sight serves as an example of the how perfectly-conflicted Rome continues on.

Aside from the palace on top of The Palatine Hills, the buildings of the Forum decorate the landscape. One of the most important structures is where the Senate met; modern republics can trace their roots back to a single structure built close to 2000 years ago. One must not forget the reality of these grand structures. All structures built in Rome have a dark tie to slave labor. Slaves built structures that were larger than life by hand. The use of slave labor to give rise to magnificent structures further exemplifies how Rome is perfectly-conflicted.

While exploring the Palatine Hills and other parts of Rome, I began to enjoy my sojourn. My stay opened me to beauty of Rome. The beauty of Rome is one where old meets modern, state meets church, opulent meets ragid. The conflict consumes one. One can simply glance over Rome for its conflicts; yet observant eyes will get lost in the mystery of Rome: how such a perfectly-conflicted land exists!

I would soon face another hiccup. While riding bikes in the Roman countryside, I would become separated from the group. My chain popped off. Luckily, a classmate helped me remedy the issue; but not before a vast distance would grow between the group and us. We were lost. I was lost. In order to reach the group, we biked uphill on ancient-Roman cobblestone roads. As cars whizzed by us and the road grew to be far to even for my thin tires, a stress overtook me. I felt my shoulders tense and a sweat drip from furrowed brow. The group seemed so far off. As I cycled my burning legs around the pedals, I began to reflect how I was growing from the doom being endured. It was not my easiest experience of Rome; it was my most transformative experience of Rome. If I could endure what felt like Hell, who/what is going to stop me! This experience revealed to me that Rome is a place where on is baptized in fire. A cleansing that can only occur by experiencing the tension of the city of Rome. A type of non-traditional cleansing happens here; the land continues to reveal its perfectly-conflicted nature.

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