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Monday 5 September

Spello train stop — "station" is really too much — the clangy little bell announcing my train now for well over three minutes; I should be leaving at 1002 for Foligno and going on to Rome: I'm carrying both my skating bag and my camera bag.

I'm going without having called the rink, so I don't really even know that it's open, let alone the schedule. Still, I'll take my old 4:15-was-it? train to Velletri: the worst that can happen is for the rink to be closed; so I'll spend a bit of time in Rome.

I had in fact been telling myself I'd go skating today but I lazed over breakfast on the terrace — strangozzi all' epityrum, even a glass of rosato d' Assisi, then coffee and a yogurt for dessert — although I'd already had one sudden departure by then: almost immediately on awaking I threw on a minimum of clothing and was out on the hill to Collepino taking advantage of the brief lighting conditions offered by the rising sun over Spello; I may even be figuring out how to bypass the automatic focus.

Anyway, bath and shampoo but no shave — the hot water is very hot but there isn't much of it — and at 0942 by the computer clock I thought it'd be too late, but within three minutes changed my mind, collected my gear, and dashed down the hill. must be about 10 minutes fast: at any rate, I had time to sit and number the pages of this notebook, and start in on this entry (I'm now sitting in Foligno, binario 5, waiting for the 10:41 to Rome). Sharing the bench with me, behind me, a Russian woman and her early-teenage son: three sweetly dressed and well behaved girls apparently his sisters in quick succession standing and talking quietly about clothes. Also nearby a pair of young German women, an Anglo-Saxon man with an Atlanta Olympics baseball cap, and an Italian teenager. Clock disconcertingly reads 1:07; not the first on this trip: in Terni yesterday one was slow by about 45 minutes — just close enough for me to believe it briefly.


OK, 4:05 P.M. and sitting on my putt-putt to S. Maria delle Mole; same train and schedule (or at least I hope so: I didn't check the return), but different platform, #16 which is much more convenient, not the little siding you have to run hundreds of yards within the station for!

Devilishly hot. I got to Rome having spent the whole trip being quizzed by a young couple — the boy all of 24 if that tow-headed intelligent-looking — from Poland who spoke very good English; about economic and other liberties and conditions in the U.S. They were from Gdynia — and were surprised when I drew them the coat of arms of their city. . . .


[image ALT: The Arch of Constantine.]

Anyway, arriving in Rome about quarter to one, I went and photographed what I could of S. Maria Maggiore. S. Prassede very closed, I walked to the Coliseum and sat; overhearing some none-too‑well informed chat about gladiators and Commodus, I kibitzed then with much encouragement delivered myself of some vintage Booby lecturelets on various topics Roman — At 3 I got up and spent twenty minutes photographing the Arch of Constantine; Meta Sudans area all dug up — N face not photographable, against the sun and relief all flattened: will have to wait for early morning or late evening better yet no shadow from the Coliseum. Unhurried walk back to Termini, with 5000₤ of ice cream in one hand, bags over the shoulder. Plenty of time, not tired, but sweltering.

Now that I'm on my way, I do hope I'll get to skate . . .


S. Maria train hut, around 1840h; after skating. I'll still be on the same session as from Todi: the difference is that I'll get back home much earlier. The train out of here is 1858h (end of session: 1830h); in Rome 1920h; out at 1940 same train as 3 years ago; but I get off at Foligno at 2129; out at 2150, Spello train stop four minutes later; small hill rather than big one; should be home at 2210 instead of 0015.

I feel filthy, and probably am. Very hot day and sweated in my clothes, then some exercise and more sweat: and they keep a warm rink in Marino.

The skating? Well I was on the ice about an hour and a half: the most since January. I can't remember my elements, and I don't dare do them. My spins have deteriorated. The boots are not to blame: they're wonderful. I did a few things, though: CCW mohawk circular sequence; straight-line R mohawk sequence; four half-flips, quite marginal, small, without strength, confused: twofooted one landing; F inside and outside edge sequences. A few FXO's but only in the course of normal skating; BXO's only in the context of spins: effortless — but otherwise, I couldn't do them or remember how.

It wasn't really fun because I couldn't skate fast and had no control, having forgotten so much; also my own and the boots' inflexibility conspired to make my flexibility moves difficult.

It just wasn't fun.

Still, I have an ₤80M monthly pass, and a ₤156M monthly train pass: that's $140; I need to skate twice a week to make this more or less worthwhile.

Frankly, as wonderful as Spello is — other than the Ristorante Umbria in Todi, everything about Spello is better, including my wonderful terrace — I'm just not happy. I'm going thru the motions: hiking, inscriptions, photographs, Rome, skating — and I just am not enjoying anything very much. I want to go back to Chicago and do something worthwhile; except there's just nothing. I've lost my youth, and am just surviving — that I know what to do. But this isn't a life.


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