[toBREATHorNOTtoBREATH] a quick note on rome

4 10 2008

these last days I’ve found myself thinking about my first year in architecture school. more specifically about art lessons. there we were 60 or so freshmen – kids still – roaming around disconcertedly in the basement classroom we called “the museum” and which reminded me of an egyptian temple’s hypostyle hall (with row after row of columns and poorly lit). each of us faced a huge piece of paper clipped to a wobbly easel and scratched at it ferociously with charcoal-bars. we would easily run out of a couple of thess thick teaks every lesson, so you can imagine with our scrubbing we produced enough charcoal dust to make us look like real chimney-sweeps by the end of class. in fact we would go to the toilets at intervals to get some of the fith off before it started to feel comfortable with us and when we blew our noses the tissue would come out black. I can only think of a charcoal miner breathing this black dust in and out his lungs for decades, just like we did for that first year. but at the time we didn’t mind this very much – I suspect we were all secretly amused by our charcoal tainted buggies -; and as much as we liked to complain about how all our stuff was covered in dust too, we actually enjoyed it as part of our new uni life. sometimes we would rush out after class and forget to look in the mirror, thus walking around all blotted with charcoal and then realise upon getting home why everybody in the bus had stared at us in disbelieve. we didn’t mind this either, we bore it as a proof that we were architecture students, out pride boosting with the uniqueness of our treats. we were such kids.

so now, four years after, I find myself recalling this episode of my life with a little longing for the 18 year-old I was then. what triggered it was not so endearing though. the weather has been rather unstable in rome as of late. consequently I’ve been getting a runny nose now and again for a week and whenever I blew it I would discover to my utter amazement that the tissue came out black. just like the time we worked our way through bar after bar of charcoal in a poor attempt at an abstract picture. but now I hadn’t had a sniff of the thing for years! the only answer that I could come up with is that rome’s air is so polluted you could as well be breathing in and out a chimney! this though bothers me a little, to tell you the truth, because I have to live here for the next 10 months…




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