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Inverted Vedute

Early morning, the city is lifeless.  Trash floods the grounds from the night before.  I step lightly but quickly as I nervously stagger through the ominous streets.  I am so lonely that I feel like I am somewhere else.  This cannot be Rome.  I tenderly climb the freshly washed steps to face the city.  I wait for movement, straining my eyes to locate the crowds.

I wind in and out, like a needle and thread through fabric.  I become a fish swimming upstream and struggle to get by.  The street becomes the new sidewalk and the cars attempt to break through the swarm of people that have taken over.  The sun beats on my head; I squint my eyes to focus.  The fountain has transformed into a sink for drinking and bathing.  Tourists seek relief from the afternoon heat.  The stairs are now benches and cafes for eating and drinking.  The plaza is a meeting place for friends and lovers and a jobsite for the pushy men who sell roses.  I cannot help but feel an overwhelming sense of excitement and life.

The air starts to cool.  The streetlights illuminate and the high-end shops become beacons for shoppers.  There is little relief from the traffic and people but something feels different.  As the sun begins to set, crowds gather to capture the moment.  The pace changes and strides start to slow.  I wait as the sky leisurely transforms from bright blue to fiery orange and eventually to midnight black.  As I make my way back, I am once again certain I am in Rome.