Children's sandaled feet, running across the gravel yard. They release a joyous shriek and toss a deflated soccer ball across the fence. It is our space and their space, a garden big enough for the two of us. When they rest on the steps, I smell the heady scent of Indian spices - coriander, mint, curry powder - drifting from their hair and skin and clothes.
Their mother calls them in for supper after sunset. The children jog reluctantly, excitedly, across the yard. The baby cries from noise, from heat, from everyday life. The family speaks quickly in a weighty tongue which I will likely never speak. The baby continues to cry as the children swarm the kitchen, serving spoons clanking against pots and pans and ceramic dishes.
And here I am, a floor above, sandwiched between the terrace and the almost-basement. Not part of their world but certainly not separate. The sounds and scents of their world are integrated into mine, as mine are into theirs. Every morning, the same young man on a motorbike passes with an engine far too loud. Every night, we experience the same gentle breezes from our open windows. We take the same buses. We both smile at the long-suffering man on the corner, who cleans the counter of his bar from early morning to late afternoon. The people a floor below me are different in the same way as I. But we are, for now, both Romans, even if we did not begin that way.
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<p>My name is Kelli Hallmark and I'm a Trinity University student studying abroad in Rome for the summer. I first came to Italy when I was in junior high and fell deeply, madly, in love with the warmth and joy of Italian culture. I am currently double majoring in Religion and Art History, with aspirations to go into museum programming. In my free time I like to read everything in sight, write poetry and fiction, and make my own cosmetics.</p>