When in Rome 🇮🇹 Pt. Ⅴ

I don’t feel like writing today. I don’t feel like doing anything, but I know that’s not the behaviour that will get me what I want. What I want is to not feel like this, and what I’m feeling is a little lost. Maybe the best way to put it is that I feel like I’m on an island with all the mistakes I’ve ever made. I happened across some saved text messages that made me feel like I’d just pushed a kid with cancer down the stairs. I apologize for the visual. I will continue to write THIS post because writing makes me feel like I’m doing something productive.

I mentioned in the last post that we’d be going to the catacombs. The catacombs of Rome are extensive and stretch on for kilometres and kilometres. A group of eight of us headed out for the Catacomb of St. Domitilla (Via delle Sette Chiese, 282, 00147 Roma.) I recommend this catacomb because it’s close and for €8 you get a tour guide and admission. The hours are 9am-12pm then 2pm-5pm.  From Termini you need to get on the B-line and get off at Piramide, that’s five stops. The catacombs are a place where early Christians used to bury their dead, and there was some worship that went on down there. They didn’t hide out in there, all the large rooms in Catacombs were used for rituals like mourning meals and some prayer.  The Romans were a Pagan society believing in many gods, and they were not all that open to anything that would threaten the Roman way of life. If you read the underlined sentence back, you’ll see that not a whole lot has changed in the world. This made persecuting early Christians a focus for some Roman Emperors. It was not until Constantine the Great, the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity that Paganism was done away with, in the Roman Empire. Constantine accepted Christianity due to a dream he had one night during the Battle of Milivian Bridge (Rome was in civil war.)  In the dream, he saw a cross with “in hoc signo vinces” inscribed in it. That translates to “In this sign, prevail” His army marched into battle with the symbol below painted on their shields, and they won. Okay, that’s enough history.

labarum_cross I’m not very good with tight spaces, and the people from ancient Rome were far smaller than we are now. In the Catacombs, you will feel like a giant. I’m 6′ ft… I tell people I’m 6’1, but I’m a fucking lier. St. Domitilla is home to an amazing church. Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling rebellious and didn’t take any photos. Seeing all the graves and the paints were something I don’t think I’ll ever forget. I’m fascinated with the faith of people. So these Catacombs are 30 meters underground. Tufa rock is a soft volcanic rock which made the digging of the Catacombs easy.  As mentioned before the Catacombs are small and we had about 30 people on tour with us. In one of the rooms I found myself in the corner and well I had a panic attack. It was the first one I had in about five months. Now I didn’t go running out, instead, I continued on the tour… It got worse. Two of my friends noticed and tried to calm me down. In the past, I’ve “needed” or wanted other people to do that but a few months ago my mom was in the hospital, and I had a panic attack while driving and almost crashed my car. Since then I’ve had to learn to calm myself down because no ones supposed to do it for me. When the tour was over I went over to one of the benches and sat down, it didn’t work, so I went outside. I asked my friends to wait, and they gave me some space. It wasn’t a severe attack, but I felt like everything was surrounding me, this sense of doom came over me, my hands were tingly and I felt like I couldn’t get any air. Panic attacks aren’t fun, but after about five minutes I calmed myself down. For me, this was the most significant victory of my trip. Around January of this year, I had them a lot, and a friend of mine put it in the nerdiest of ways of how to calm myself down. He said, “Think of it like Harry and the Dementors. Lupin said to think of the happiest thing and hold onto that.” I laughed, but it worked. I won’t say what I thought about, but it didn’t take long for it to work.

Now, this wasn’t my last day in Rome, but it’s where I will end this series of posts. Not because I’m tired of writing about Rome but its because the next day and a half we did nothing but walk and eat gelato. Saying goodbye to all of them was one of the harder things to do. You sort of build a bond and its tough to let go. However like I’ve said before travelling alone is the best decision I’ve ever made. I’m sorry there aren’t more photos in this post, but I promise when I go to Sweden in a couple of weeks there will be and when I eventually make it to France. ONCE again, thank you for reading. The next series of post will, I hope to be a short…ish story.