This week I went to the Sagrada Familia for the first time. What I got from this experience is the notion that it is impossible to imagine somebody else’s dreams. Impossible till those dreams become reality. Like everybody else, I saw the images of the Sagrada Familia from inside and outside at least hundred times. I looked at it in the tourists books, I made pictures of the facade and even mailed a dozen of cards with its details to my friends. Yet, I have never realized how that space can change one’s understanding of reality.
If somebody shows me a suburban house from outside, I can imagine how this house will look inside. Square from outside, it will be shaped in square units inside, may be it will have an arch in the hall or an arched window. The space in predictable, how you will feel inside is somewhat predictable too. When I saw the Sagrada Familia from outside, I never imagined how it will look inside. The fact that it is a church, made me think that it would have something of a church in it. I could not have been further from the truth.
I entered a forest. An open space. A space without walls. The columns were trees. I walked in this enchanted forest and the afternoon sun was playing light tricks through the colored maple leaves. It did not feel like a safe place. It did not feel like one was walking in the right direction. There was no direction. A place to get lost amidst the light spots and the shadowed passages. Exactly as in the deep woods. With the shades of all shapes and sizes. With the wind weaving through the branches of the trees. With the lights sliding over the trunks.
What impressed me so much was the magic of being lost, of not having any answers. The fact that I could never have imagined how this space would look and feel. This space is its creator’s dream. And we can never imagine somebody else’s dream. We can foresee how the square building will be structured inside. We will not be surprised when we enter it. We will align our expectations with what we see and go with it. It will not change the way we see and understand things. Only the spaces born from the dreams have this power.
Others cannot imagine your dreams. You need to make them come true. You need to build something very true to its stem. Very true to the essence of the impossible. Do not let go even an inch. Forget about expectations, predictions, reality. Do not look for the path, do not long for the safe. Forget what others would like to see. Entering this open space made me realize that others cannot imagine your dreams.
I am talking to you. I am talking to myself too.
Barcelona, January 27th 2013
We are getting better in crossing the streets. Traffic is hectic here, and you do not know from where the cars, Vespas or buses are coming. You just have to start crossing the street hoping that all transport will stop. The first days it took us a lot of time waiting for the “space” in traffic. Today we got much better; we started crossing the streets like people in Rome do it. Just crossing them, expecting the traffic to stop or at least to slow down and not getting scared of the Vespas zipping right in front of us. Cars go in all directions, independently on the traffic flow, one-way street signs and sometimes traffic lights. However, they seem to be able to stop right on time or elegantly maneuver around people. On the busiest streets we saw traffic police directing the cars. It looked almost like a scene from a movie, traffic controllers all dressed in white, added to the sharpness of this sunny and ancient city.
Ice cream and coffee prove to be very good, day after day. Kids eat tons of ice creams while I get my cup of Americano (espresso with some extra hot water). Not sure what is the secret, but the coffee is good. Much better than in Spain, Norway or the US. I heard before that Italian coffee is good, however, I did not expect it to be good in all the places I tried it. Espresso machines are everywhere; I do not think I have seen a bakery or a small sandwich place without an espresso machine. Also, Italian people are very nice, everybody has a kind word for the kids and is very respectful to me, as a mom. It seems like kids are a priority in the Italian capital and the moms, as a prerogative, too. Kids are not treated as kids, but just as people to who you pay more attention than to regular grown ups. What I mean is that they are asked questions, sensible questions that require an answer. Questions the people would ask me too. They are asked for their name, where are they from, what language do they speak and what they like in Rome. And as these are not just sweet words and the answers are expected, the kids answer. They like to be these little citizens taken with full respect and consideration. Being able to chose their ice cream flavors for themselves and answer what have they seen in Rome are closely tied together. And it comes down to being responsible people who are exploring a new city.
Nights in Rome are much better than days. At least in summer. After 9pm the air is fresher, there are very few tourists on the streets and the buildings look different. What is visible during the day is obscured when the night falls. All the ‘noise’ disappears when then sun sets. New details, sharp windows, columns, doors and corners strike your sight. You see buildings that were invisible during the sunny hours. After 9pm Rome is full of light spots of illuminated facades, sharper cobblestone pavement under the yellowish light and music from the cafes and bars. Contrasts of light and obscureness, of silence and music, of scattered groups people and emptiness of the streets are becoming. I like Rome after 9pm. The air is light and your steps are echoed by non-ending buildings of the narrow empty ‘vias’. Only at night you pay attention to the light.
Rome, July 6th 2012