The first steps you take as you enter the immaculate hallways of the first cathedral in Rome are the last ones taken out of fear.
Fear, you had always been full of it, of potential abandonment and quivering voices.
But here, the arches have beckoned years upon years of marveling, of eyes cast upward at staggering golden ceilings, light reflecting through the brilliance of violet stained glass.
This is the moment in which you realize that bravery exists in the aftermath. Just hours ago, you had boarded the suffocating plane all by yourself, red sneakers and matching suitcase, departing the same home that kept you calm for so long. With shaking hands and a hammering heart, you are buzzing with static electricity you were too afraid to understand before this moment.
Peeking out of the claustrophobic airplane window, you realize just how small you are, how microscopic everything seems just as soon as it has been defeated. And though your worries have taken shelter as a lump in your throat, they soon dissolve like sugar cubes in hot tea.
There is nothing left but tranquility.
Cascading blankets of translucent white hang daintily through the glass, blinding the plummeting ground from existence. This is the first time you have ever let yourself taste freedom.
And then, while your neck cranes down at the indigo expanse below you, you realize that the same blue is no longer taking shelter inside of your bones. Blue no longer runs through the paths of veins in your hands or in the moments in class you wished you would have said something but never did. Blue no longer remembers your writing and how easy it was to fit solitude in between the letters.
Blue, instead, is all around you, oceans below your feet like a collection of everything you were too heavy to hold onto.
Somewhere, miles and hours behind you, your mother is cooking dinner. She will leave an extra bowl of Monday night soup at your place at the dinner table, an accidental broth you will never taste. Your father’s heavy eyelids have collapsed, television humming white noise, cat on his shoulder as the peach-colored dusk melts into the room.
Yet you were there,
suspended miles of infinities above the same ocean you fell in love with back when you were even smaller than before. Back when your big brown eyes followed paths in the heavens, the soft glide of the ones brave enough to shuttle toward new horizons, redefining the notion of reckless abandon.
And now, you are here.
You are one of them.
Captivated, enveloped in the shadows of the masterpieces that have aged over thousands of lives that will never meet yours. You are a pioneer of your first real experience, marble statues and pillars the sole witnesses of your rebirth.
They are haunting, breathtaking, faces painted gracefully upon crumbling walls in colors that once made souls tremble in the same skies you had dreamed of, and then dreamed in.
You are here, surrounded by memories of light. And for a couple of moments tied together by blind hope, you forget that darkness once knew you by name.