The Things We Carry

In Rome, we shoulder our backpacks. She carries a ukelele strapped to her suitcase; I carry a promise and my leather journal. Together we carry the weight of endeavor, of embarking on the pursuit of the unknown.

In Orvieto, I carry memories that I discover, upon arrival, to be staunchly non-transferrable. She carries the wonder that I have traded for nostalgia, and we split a pizza in the sun. I offer the things that do not belong to me: the cow bench, gelato made by a woman who only opens her store when she feels like it, the cafe we frequented that may be run by drug dealers. We eat pastries in the park and write a chapter all our own.

In Florence, we carry the burden of uncertainty. I lie awake thinking about the job offer I’ve accepted—hastily, perhaps, but when one opportunity has run its course, what choice do you have but to take whatever new option presents itself? She holds the pride of accomplishment in one hand and the disappointment of rejection in the other, and when finally the conversation narrows down to terse words, we divulge our concerns and breathe easier in the shared air of change.

In Siena, we carry only our canteens and our wallets, leaving our hands free to gather the things we find along the cobblestone streets: spices for her family, sandwiches for lunch, the history of the horse races and the contrade, the story of Caterina. It’s cloudy for the first time since we arrived in Italy, and the hush that falls over the city awaiting rain is a welcome respite.

In Venice, I carry words not my own in my pocket, where they are safe and where I can read them over again when they start to fade into the recesses of memory. It’s a comfort and a hardship to be missed, the sort of pain you can relish. She carries the voices of her family and two bottles of wine. We both carry the sunlight that reflects off the water, absorbing it into our skin.

In Verona, the weight is too heavy. My feet are too tired, my back hurts too much. We carry our fatigue like millstones around our necks. Her feet blister and we clash, disengage, relieve ourselves of our burdens and tend to our wounds. Here we discover the beauty of slowness, an unfamiliar art: the train will still be waiting.

In Milan, we carry our clothes in plastic bags to the laundromat fifteen minutes away from our flat. We watch the colors twist together as the dirt of eleven days of travel spins out and away, and I feel lighter. Less encumbered. On our walk back we pick up food for dinner and we eat on the balcony outside our room while a gentle rain falls, and I will carry this moment of grace with me all the way home.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *