It is 6 pm and I am still struck in the traffic at the crossroads between Via Laurentina and Via della Magliana. I have to go towards the centre, and it will probably take me some hours before that I can sit in front of my pizza and relax. Traffic in Rome is always a challenge, and you soon get used to the fact that, sometimes, the route may become your second home. I sit there, staring at the red back light of the car in front of me, that vibrates slightly upwards and downwards, communicating a strange idea of vulnerability and fatigue. I have put the radio loud out, and I try the exercise of singing by heart the songs that I used to listen by my father in my childhood.
Things could be worse. It could actually rain, and instead the clouds are just leaving some space for the last sunshine on the day to meet my face behind the glass. I am now totally absorbed by the gradual advancement that the traffic rhythm transmits to me and my beloved Citroen C3 model. The minutes are passing, and it really seems that I will have to delay my pizza and chill there in the traffic.
It is incredible how our lives run so fast and then suddenly have to stop for hours because of an unthinkable and unexpected event, like a car crash or some roadwork. The first sensation you have is that of time running out, like remaining without gas when you are driving on the highway. Still, after a while, I always succeed in lowering the glass, breath some oxygen and repeat the Pink Floyd verses that my father used to sing while shaving on Sunday mornings:
“Look around, choose your own ground
For long you live and high you fly
And smiles you’ll give and tears you’ll cry
And all your touch and all you see
Is all your life will ever be”.
As the rhythm of my voice slows down, that uniformness with the speed of my car, until some kind of equilibrium is reached. It is moment like this, when I leave everything out, and for some shorts moments I forget about university and all the pushy rendezvous of the everyday life, that I miss that sweat sensation of being bored that I felt when I was a child. Such thoughts always work as a lubrication mechanism for my brain, and when cars start flowing fast again, I am finally purified, ready to start again as if all the stress cumulated had vanished.
There is no doubt that I live a significantly faster life than that of my parents or my grandparents. I had the possibility to visit more countries, enjoy different food, listen to music from all parts of the world and even watch two or three movies per day thanks to online platforms like Netflix. I am not nostalgic of a past where you had to wait for Saturdays in order to go out and where the radio transmitted the same songs for more than one year, possibly from the same national artist.
What sometimes I feel I miss is the possibility to stop moving and to contemplate things happening slowly. See the world not as something dynamically transforming, but as something that gradually evolves, growing up like a child in search of his vocation. I miss things that I slow, that take time to understand and require time to learn. Just like those Sunday mornings where I used to listen to the Pink Floyd with my father. We used to stand together in front of the mirror, and then I used to shave mocking him, covering my face with shaving cream and then removing it with the fingers.
It is time to go back now. I had my pizza and my hunger has been satisfied. I am now driving back, it should be midnight or something like that. Passing through the empty roads of Rome, I stare at the buildings put in evidences by wide areas of yellowish light. No one is around, the city is so far from the rushy attitude of some hour before. I don’t need to lower my speed and just flow fast through the ancient ruins.
That is not a kind of beauty you can understand from one day to another. You need to be exposed to it, continuously, contemplate almost passively, let yourself the time to breathe it to the end. It is like sediments, that fall into your life one day after another, and at the end you have a mountain out of the them.