There was something I wanted to find

 Posted by at 10:33 am  ON the STREET  Comments Off
Dec 112008


My indecisiveness; my, this café or that, was cut short by a
heavy downpour, typical of rain in Rome. There had been plenty of warning, the
clouds gathering, packing ever tighter into this late Sunday afternoon in
December; a darkening presence as I pressed on down the straight and cobbled canyon of the
Via Giulia, sometimes making short forays into side streets and then finding a
way back to the Via Giulia.

The energy of my earlier wish for a long walk had dissipated and shifted
into something else: an immobility heavy with some unknown burden, and the word disconsolate
had come to mind as I traversed the Tevere for the second time. Wearily but irresolutely
I looked for a café in which I might find some comfort. What about this one?
No. That one? No. But when the rain started the choice was made. I sidled in
between the chairs, pulled the table closer to the pole of the umbrella and sat
down. The waitress, bursting out of her tight clothes, a sort of uniform of
short white jacket and black trousers, was occupied with other customers or
fiddling with another umbrella, then when I looked up again she had slipped
passed me and disappeared into the crowded interior.

As I opened my writing book and readied my pencil the word
translation was the first one to be written. First words often arrive like the
odd drops of rain that are spat down before the deluge gets under way.

The cappuccino when it came was expensive at 3 euros 20 or
these days about £3.00. But then I remembered that my fingers grappling under
the swinging perspex guard and the stainless steel ‘pocket’ for change and
tickets, had found an extra one-euro coin in the biglietto machine at the Metro
station, so not so bad . . . the passing banality of our thoughts.

Back to translation: the shifting of language from something
I can’t do anything with to a language I can use. Yes, it could be Italian into
English, but more to the present stream of thought is my instinctive
translation of scriptural language into psychological language; after all it’s
how I have made sense of the major chunks of experience and made my living for the last thirty/forty years.
Until, that is, I seemed to reach the borders of that familiar territory and
had to start again, shuffling in a wilderness where the old language is no longer adequate.

And what words have the potency to change the shuffling into
walking, striding with a certainty of purpose? I’m always on the lookout
for the word that fits, that is accurate, and, yes, that has the power to open
the door into a ‘room’ where the light is strong and clear and I can see
which way to go or at least which café in which to rest awhile.