MotM Essay | The Geography Of Time

In Rome, Italy. December 2018. © Pamela Kerpius

In Rome, Italy. December 2018. © Pamela Kerpius


20 March 2018

MotM Essay
The Geography Of Time
Part III: Memories of the Milky Way

“Manchi tu nell’aria” (“I miss you in the air”) ––Umberto Tozzi


The guy with the last name “Gloria” drove me out of central Rome along a winding road that got darker as we ascended away from the city light. “Are you scared?” he asked with a wry smile, and I told him I was from New York City. It was a sweet attempt to impress me and he did a good job of it, with us planted at the top of some hill at a tucked-away restaurant that he said was his favorite for the views. We were saturated in an invisible mist. Senses were scrambled. You couldn’t see the color green on the trees because it was dark, but you could feel it. Cold air whistled through pines. Otherwise, silence and our shoes against gravel in the lot where he parked.

The river below kept the muddy viscosity of its aspect even in the shadows, a dark stream cutting through the incandescent weight of the Roman skyline at night. These were the muscle fibers of Rome, the Eternal City’s heart beating before us that executed with faith a touchable view into its own eternity.

Inside, it was Lucy’s 18th birthday. “Auguri Lucy!” flashed on the screen all evening between her baby photo montages. We looked through the thick glass wall separating Lucy in her white gown and then at each other and said, “That was twenty years ago.” On our other side, was a stage of people who, if the music they were listening to was any indication, were twenty years our senior. We were alive in this time warp, looking back at ourselves, and then ahead, but mostly at each other, wondering, I think, if this moment meant anything, because probably we were speechless that it actually revealed everything.

We left the restaurant and walked to the overlook of the city. Its dimensions bent into every angle of time.

I opened my suitcase the evening I arrived in Rome, three days earlier, and a rush of finocchio and wild oregano and sea wafted out from the towel and sheet I had hanging to dry in the wind the night before when I was still on the island.


. . . 


Lampedusa across the month of October was an ebb and flow of happenings and bizarre nothingness, which is to say, situation normal. After the October 3rd crowds died down there was space to bump into friends again at the cafe. Aldo would eventually show up and we’d sit in the wicker chairs at The Royal letting the wind and the low-volt electricity on Via Roma do most of the talking. He was telling me about the birds he photographs that migrate to the island every year from Africa. Peter Adey in his study on spacial movements, Mobility, said they “[make the sovereign borders of states look entirely permeable,” but birds are not the only wildlife arriving outside of customs procedures in Lampedusa. It has visits from whales and dolphins, and its shores are a protected sea turtle sanctuary––the turtles come right up on the beach every season at Isola dei conigli to lay their eggs.

This past fall, humans joined them. The EU’s puppet coastguard blockade was still active in Libya so the usual waves of sub-Saharan Africans were not arriving at the Guardia Costiera dock, and instead, small boats self-serviced by escaping Tunisians emptied out where tourists, shocked and unaware with their heels still dug into the sand, stood by speechless. We all watched the video like it was an alternate reality.

Tunisians would arrive in fits and starts. The hotspot was filled, nonetheless, with a good number of their arrivals who were eager to move on, but who, for some, were afraid to stir too quickly, as if any sudden movement might summon a snap repatriation to their country. 

One young man, who I will call Mohammed, sat twitching in his seat as I interviewed him. He darted his eyes around the cafe. He asked again and again if the police were watching. He kept his voice low, muttering sometimes and clanging his espresso cup against the saucer in a tremor. I tried to reset him. I told him there were no police watching, that we were free and safe here, but it assuaged him only temporarily. He was on a hunger strike at the hotspot, refusing to eat for days in protest of the possibility that he would be returned to Tunisia. He was clear, he would be harmed there. He asked who I worked for. Was I with the government? The police? 

Mohammed wouldn’t have been the first to wonder: Adele had recently told me a few Lampedusans had approached her to ask if I was a spy for the United States. She laughed at the notion, the correct response, but I could not laugh at Mohammed’s paranoia; he would face a hidden terror upon his port or plane landing. His worry was justified.

Others said they had been taken into Tunisian state custody after their other attempts to flee. Beatings would ensue before they were released. The ones who had taken the journey more than once were less scared. One said he wasn’t afraid at all; whatever abuse he might endure back home would be worth his attempt at freedom and economic opportunity; they were starving at home. 

“He’s lying,” a shop owner on Via Roma said after he saw me talking to Mohammed. “None of it is true, I’ve been there.” He travels to Tunisia regularly on fishing expeditions and vacation. My friend, the shop owner, had never seen violence on his visits, and demanded to know how then could it be true. My friend also travels as an Italian benefitting from entry to Tunisia without a passport; he is free. Tunisians on the other hand do not enjoy the same privilege, required instead to secure a visa to leave home and enter Italy. Or they might charter a rickety boat under the radar before making landfall in Lampedusa. 

Standing next to Mohammed on the street when we met the night before his interview was another young Tunisian who, true to his word, with a needle and thread sewed his lips together days later in symbolic protest against his government that he said silenced him. These are matters of optics then, of choosing not to engage with a person in order to maintain the vision of what you want to see. This is ostensibly, ignoring the truth when it’s standing right in front of you.

In the pockets of time that opened up between these encounters, which sometimes would spell themselves out across days, I kept moving to the edge. One afternoon at the north side cliffs I sat in the curve of a rock resting my head on my backpack and staring into the sky. The wind deafened the scene. I concentrated long enough on one puff of cloud that it started to feel like the top of the cliff’s edge and it were melding into the same horizontal axis.

Everything appears in slow motion when the sky is only interrupted by the white noise of the wind. It’s a fall into a wide-screen projection, a 70mm sky. From this particular cliff the road was in the distance, out of sight, and you could momentarily remember other life forms as imaginary. It is scary, actually, when you go this far. You yourself lose meaning. You can imagine your own body as arbitrary. You can quite imagine that this is what it might feel like to be forgotten, made invisible, or pulled apart into the molecules of space.

I never saw a soul. I stumbled across a pile of animal bones, desiccated and porous, like pumice, like a hard, gray sponge. There were broken shards of Sicilian ceramic tile. There was a weather-beaten collection of glass bottles and jars, broken and scattered at what was obviously someone’s dumping ground. My eyes tracked up from the matte surface of the animal skull that absorbed the light of the late afternoon sky in one tight form. The cliff was high on the horizon. The sea was out of sight, but its sense in the wind an apparition. Cell phone reception would come and go. I texted my friend that I felt like I was living in a Dali painting. I wished he was there with me to see it, but I was relieved for the volley of texts at least because it confirmed I was not standing in the afterlife.

I put one of the bones in my backpack, a piece of vertebrae, wholly recognizable in its shape, but sun-dried through like the rest I left behind on the ground. I was pulling at dried blooms of finnochio seeds at the roadside and stuffing them in my pockets, inhaling them alternately against the car fumes that would go by as I got closer to town. Via Roma was coming alight, the sun was edging into shadows, and five friends were laughing with one’s toddler in his arms. The kid wriggled to the ground and stared at my florescent pink sneakers in the container of blue light around us. He looked up at me silently, then reverently back at the sneakers. He fell far into that color, his own 70mm of existential questioning. 

At the bakery, the girl wrapped a small batch of my favorite almond cookies in paper and ribbon. This still happens in Italy, your purchases being handed back to you like a present. The cookies were in my backpack next to the bone, and so, with the finnochio seeds in my pocket, on my person was the full spectrum of objects to be found on this inadvertent Lampedusa scavenger hunt.

Adele and I were looking at the horizon from the top of the hill in the middle of town one night. The last grains of sky were deep red, as dark as the color of blood in a vile. 

Rosso di sera…” I sang.

“…Bel tempo si spera,” she resolved. 

Unplanned grace like that. Even with the “Si” Simply grocery store bags hanging from our arms, banging into our thighs at every step. At the store, Tunisian migrants were in the line next to us buying cans of tuna, bottles of water, and beer. Adele said there had been a ban on alcohol sales to migrants, and she was upset when I asked why, “Because when they drink, Pam, bad things happen.” I hated to hear it because it is a generalization and not all Tunisians who drink turn bad, I know because I’ve sat with them at the cafes; but she wasn’t wrong about the fights that can break out, or the thefts at shops sometimes on the street. There was a fight in front of the church just a few weeks before that left the townspeople shocked. 

The bands of sky above the red were the last shades of blue before pitch black. The bars on Via Emanuele were lit up and so were the cars and scooters flapping by in front of Bar Dell’Amicizia. Only the counter girl was left inside, the owner’s son gone AWOL, and we waved to her from outside before reaching Adele’s doorstep and kiss-kissing each cheek goodnight. 

I kept dreaming of the sea. The water was at my eye level when I crossed the curve through Cala Palme on the final stretch of the walk home. The sea had fallen asleep. It was calm. It looks like nothing could ever go wrong when it’s at rest like that.

It was a different day. Adele and I wandered to the edge of Cala Guitgia without planning to and she burst into tears. “He’s a different person,” she said about her dad who has schizophrenia. She missed how he used to be before the change, when she was still a teenager. She watched his decline. She was remembering how “there used to be love in the house.” Now it was just her alone. I met her dad once at her aunt’s home next-door. Adele loaded laundry into the machine and introduced us. He looked at me blankly, turned his back, and smoked the rest of his cigarette while staring at the wall of kitchen cabinets. I was enraged for a minute knowing nobody knew what was happening to us in this moment on this invisible island, because if that was our limit, voicing anything really would amount to the uselessness of screaming into the wind. Water was spraying up on the jagged rocks. We tucked our toes in it and I declared that she was still loved anyway, and that her unknown story was not just important but essential: to show people what lies out here beyond their vision.

“Lampedusa isn’t even on a map” the hotel hostess told me in shock that I, a lone American, had found it on my first visit in July 2016. No one knows what Adele has felt here, but I swore to her she was empowered to have survived it and that it was her strength to be from this place of compassion and heartbreak to tell them.

Rome was on the horizon now.

I waited to book my flight because I wanted to be on the island if the blockade broke outside Tripoli. It could happen at any second, but no one knew when, or if it would happen for sure. The depression of indecision: hedging possibilities while time takes leave of you, tired of being squandered. So I sat in Lampedusa waiting for people to arrive who never came. 

Make a move. The waiting ached.

I booked my flight, finally, to Rome and it was like a muscle release. 

After that the days were defined by the understated gesture of extraordinary things: evening aperitivi, meetings, and experiences that found you with a pastel tap on the shoulder but rushed through you with the realization that you were living in neon time.

There were chance encounters at the cafes at night with Tunisians who we had made friends with. One plugged into the WiFi and we waved to his mom through the pixels of the video call. No one at the table knew each other’s language fluently, so we used a mix of Italian, French, English and Arabic and stitched it together with another round of wine.

There was a rave under the Milky Way. A friend set up industrial-sized speakers and a pounding drum-and-bass playlist in a spot that I want to call the middle of nowhere, but we were already in  Lampedusa so that isn’t specific enough. We took the main road to a dirt road to a nameless void, and in complete darkness my friend led us to a clearing with the unbroken pace of someone coming through his own front door. He had a lit path from the Cheshire Cat laid out in front of him, it seemed, that only he could see in reverie. There was a flashing colored light on the rig that our arriving friend howled would bring the carabinieri because you could see it from goddamned Linosa it was so bright.

So in pure night I sat on a piled stone wall nearby––another amoebic border dividing this from that piece of emptiness, and got pummeled by sound waves that were physically endurable only because the black universe above us soaked them up in our relief. The whole galaxy stretched out in a pointillist smatter of white light on velvet wallpaper. The sea lingering in the air, the licorice from the finocchio settled in our lungs. The stars and the infinite vacuum around it absorbed our identity, our civility, our design until we almost ceased to exist and you could finally see we were just tiny enough to make the biggest impact. 

In Lampedusa, Italy, Earth on another evening the community group Forum Lampedusa Solidale met with Mayor Martello to voice concerns about the status of the hotspot changing from an open reception center to a closed expulsion facility. There was an initial wave of esteem for his being there, because in the previous Nicolini administration it never happened. But he looked bored. He sat on the edge of his seat like a kid waiting to be dismissed from the dinner table. His cell phone rang multiple times. He texted. Paola La Rosa, Lampedusa resident, migrant rights advocate, and compassionate community leader took him to task for the rumors circulating that he recommended in his closed-door meeting with Minister of the Interior, Marco Minniti, that the Lampedusa hotspot indeed be converted to an expulsion center—which resembles a jail more than a reception spot. But by meeting’s midpoint Martello already had a cigar in one hand and his lighter in the other, ready to leave and light up.

It was clear that as a candidate to reform the flow of migrants to Lampedusa it was in his interest to rally for the hotspot’s closing. Just as it was in his interest as a hotel owner: a closed facility where migrants are locked up and out of sight makes Lampedusa more palatable for paying visitors*. The meeting ended with almost nothing signaling that it had.

There were raw memories coming off the sea. A twenty-something Tunisian hung back at The Royal. His face tightened to a crinkle that was neither dramatic nor slight, but a fixed, dull pain that said he still saw too much to rest yet. He was speaking Italian-Arabic and me Italian-English; it was a journey story understood in fragments. He was in physical danger back home. His family remained. There was a sequence of events that he couldn’t articulate and I couldn’t decode, but whatever it was it led him in the end to the sea, because those were the pictures I saw on his phone: scared bodies, maybe ten or 12, laying down next to each other packed onboard to capacity. No one was smiling into the camera but looking through it to this moment where I looked back at them, nodding in acknowledgement that it happened. Deep blue water and a painted wooden boat. All men in sweatsuits that were too thin to keep them warm. It was 35 hours on the open sea.

Another day. I stared at a phantom fishing boat at Cala Pisana that I think had eyes and drifted as far as the length of its long rope anchor. It acted like I had interrupted a conversation it was having with the sea amidst crystal threads of the ultra-bright afternoon. No one was in sight. I had been to Cala Pisana too many times to count, but now it looked like a mystery. The boat sat on the turquoise whose surface was rippled by the wind, but it cast no shadows and so seemed like it was levitating. The water looked like light. I jumped in and it was cold. Colder than I knew. Cold enough that I thought maybe I shouldn’t be in it. Cold enough that I thought my body might not survive it. But it was bright and there was no way to separate myself from the allure of light through my hair. It was an addiction. It felt primordial. It felt away. It felt apart. It felt like hunger. It felt like movement and fear. The blue sky was so bright when my eyes broke the surface that I thought I was staring at a silent God. The salt makes the water silky but heavy. It was the texture of weight. It was the weight of everything sinking in me but me making it to the surface anyway. The color was perfect. I stared at it confused, not awestruck, because it could not be real. New York was a place that existed, I thought to myself. I imagined streets and heels in office corridors, this idea an absurdity as much as the color of this sea an impossibility. Lampedusa is not real, nor New York. I wasn’t real, nor you. It was only faith within the depth of these electric currents that we were there for each other.

Italo Calvino wrote of his Mr. Palomar bobbing in the sea that he “is immersed in a disembodied world, intersections of force fields, vectorial diagrams, bands of position lines that converge, diverge, break up. But inside him there remains one point in which everything exists in another way, like a lump, like a clot, like a blockage: the sensation that you are here but could not be here, in a world that could not be but is.And so far, it’s the closest I’ve come to an explanation of Lampedusa’s enigmatic form.

New feathers of finnochio came up through the cracks in the sidewalk. Blue-purple flowers at the ends of the rosemary branches, and the gray, sawtoothed stems of oregano bushes filled out with tiny green leaves.

Close enough to the water, everything is dusted with the sea’s evaporated saline.

The night before my flight, I hung my sea-soaked blanket and towel from the laundry rack on the porch, but they never dried and instead just marinated in the night.


. . . 


When I opened my suitcase and that scent hit me in Rome, my eyes welled up, because leaving Lampedusa always feels like a fragment of freedom revoked. The last trace of the scent and the surreal sky opened now to the city instead.

But I was glad to be there. Already in the anonymous bustle I had meetings scheduled, day trips to cities where migrants had been transferred, and connections with people I could not anticipate I’d come to know. And, more pressingly, before the stores closed that night, I needed groceries for breakfast, and the highest grade of disinfectant commercially available since my landlord left the apartment’s bathroom in a condition that rekindled ghastly memories of a sticky Penn Station restroom. 

The guy Gloria, had already made a dinner reservation for us that night too, so the waft of Lampedusa in the air would wait. Life was already marching on at an aspiring pace, ahead of even these memories I wanted to hold.

. . .


During the days, I scouted through the city to cafes to work and to purposely take turns down side streets so I could find myself after getting lost. I think it’s the best way to learn to get to where you are going. Every day I would come across a site, a street, a door, a monument I had seen before across the visits I’d made to Rome over the last nine years. The past tense snuck up in the present each time to say with delight, Oh, that’s where that was. It was there all along.

During the nights, I ate a lot of botched dinners at home while watching football matches, a prime-time soap called La strada di casa, where I learned everything changed for Gloria (Lucrezia Lante della Revere) and her husband Fausto (Alessio Boni) after the accident; and reality game shows and talk shows whose sets were always bathed in cornflower blue light and decorated with clear lucite tables.

The TV experience was almost completely foreign to me until I saw a yogurt commercial scripted to an Italian pop song I learned the summer before when I was driving in Sicily. I almost drove off the road when I heard Nada’s “Amore Disperato” on the car radio because even though I had never listened to it before, its sound was so familiar I thought it was already in my memory bank of the 1980s. When I spoke to my dearest friend about it, a Venetian, whose language and cultural identity had always been a mystery to me, he said, “Welcome to my childhood,” and I finally found a bit of whatever had been lost in translation. 

Big ups to Nada and Muller brand yogurt for making me a part of the cultural fabric.

The TV hour was a tiny forgetting of the real trauma that lived around there, in Rome, but in Milan and Naples, and many other small towns in between, too. In these shared spaces there were innumerable overlapping angers and untreated wounds. Follow the flanks of tourists to the Vatican and you’ll find migrant vendors hounding you to buy tickets to the museum. There are Bangladeshis, Cubans, Spaniards, and also native Italians. The world’s range of languages must be represented because this is where tourists from all over the globe converge. A Tunisian dropped his pitch for tickets quickly when I told him I was just waiting for a friend, Pazi (Gambia), and instead I asked him about his migration experience. He arrived four years ago but it was going bad for him, for all of them, he said, and me writing about it wasn’t going to change it. 

“No one here cares about people who aren’t like them,” he said point-blank in an Italian that was now accelerating beyond my fluency. Something about fifteen hour days. Something about abuse, about how his face was cut. I stood next to the stone post that separates Piazza San Pietro from the Basilica’s front entrance listening to him until he said his final piece and walked away. There was acridness in the air. An Eastern European vendor came by next to make his pitch. No one would buy. He was aggravated. Everyone fanned out of his way.

In Milan, Baye (Senegal; reunion story forthcoming) said “I only have black friends” when I asked about his integration. His experience in the city, as I’d find with almost all migrants post-transfer, was primarily one of being ignored. Wally (Gambia) is a more cheerful exception to that, but even he, as well as his flatmates Sama (Cameroon) and Lamin (Gambia), remembers violence from his journey that he doesn’t want to for the pain it provokes. How do you cope with the memories of torture, starvation and routine death when you’re in isolation? Pazi said he wakes up in the middle of the night crying. Charles (32, Nigeria; story forthcoming), now living in Viterbo, a town north of Rome, said crossing the Sahara “was hell.”

He sees skeletons and human remains when he recounts it, which he said he didn’t like to do because it made him cry too. He drank from dirty wells and puddles when water ran out and he was breathing dust in the desert. When he made it to Libya he was held in detention, a house of gore. Of the dead bodies that could not survive the torture, captors, he said, “threw them away.” Around us, while Charles talked, people lunched in the sunny cafe. But his nightmare was real; one of the obscured smears of blood that stain Italy’s streets now. I met a woman from Milan who said she didn’t believe their stories, “Really? All of them have been abused?” All of them.

I was having waking dreams in Rome. In the middle of the night the wind blew open the windows and led me across the marble floor to tell the ghosts there was nothing to be afraid of. I had a nightmare once though that spooked me so much that I texted Sig. Gloria the next day to say I almost woke him from sleep to make sure it wasn’t true. I thought better not to bother him, but he wrote right back, “Wake me!” and I almost fell over. 

The Roman accent sounds the way it feels to put your teeth through tin foil, but some words are melodious anyway.

On a weekend visit to Germany to see a friend’s new baby I was asking her about history. She told me about field trips for history class to concentration camps she used to take as a kid, there was one right near the town where she grew up. There was one there in Munich, where she and her husband lived now. He told me in a voice that fell to a tremble that his grandparents had ties to the Nazi party, it was ostensibly why his lineage survived. His posture was at once upright and resigned. I had never seen anyone account for his own history so soberly.

In Rome, as is the case throughout much of Italy, the city moves to the pace of tourism. Everyone is kept there by its historical sights, and rightly so, they are astonishing. They are inspiring. They let you look into another time, which is useful because it contextualizes your own so you can find meaning as you move forward. But something wasn’t right. The majority of my friends in Italy are unemployed or under-employed. I can’t think of a single one who is starting a family. I don’t want to push the analogy far, because the sampling is obviously biased and narrow; but it occurred to me that a vision of the future might be hard to come by. There’s not even the collective governance to get the trash picked up in Rome; and now, post-2018 election, there’s no national government established yet either. What does this do to one’s perception of the future?

I wondered if, actually, it took a toll on the Italian psyche to always––constantly, unendingly––see people coming from all over the world to be in awe only of what you used to be.

The building at Piazza Indipendenza, where mostly East African homeless migrants were squatting for shelter before an infamous clash with police who turned water hoses on them last August 2017, is now abandoned. The city has found no way to fund a use for it. It is not only abandoned, but guarded to keep it that way, as if to say, If we can’t have it, neither can you

It leaves a lot to be inspired.

Somewhere near the highway through central Rome the municipality installed a notice at a work site to the people, to paraphrase: pardon the mess, we’re under construction. And that might be the understatement of a generation that, without leveraging the humanity around them, threatens to become the new permanent monument.

That is the vision of a country not seeing the geographical space of its own self: Italy, surrounded on almost all sides by water, the very thing that long ago allowed it to sail out and conquer its Roman Empire is now the thing that allows so many from the outside to port––that allows people from the outside to come to it.

. . . 


That restaurant up on the hill that Sig. Gloria took me to was usually quiet; one event was rare, two, almost unheard of, the waitress added. Everyone was caught off guard. It might have been a night spoilt for so many outsiders traipsing through the date he had planned for me. But I bet Lucy, who was now weeping with her friends at her baby photos on the big screen, had no intention of two strangers snickering over her tears on her special day, then, either. Frankly, we were just trying to stay upright from the dance floor’s strobing light that was making quick microwave dinners of our retinas. Our more senior friends were already blind, there, on the opposite side hopping to the music in a long, merrymaking line. They never saw us. They were trying to not trip over chairs. I told Sig. Gloria this night could not have been choreographed better, witnessing these units of time parade by so brightly. 

The distance from Rome to New York, for me, is at this time just over three months, or seven time zones, or five hours’ time change away. Sometimes I think I miss Rome, but that’s not right because it has not been taken from me. I don’t know what awaits when I return, but I know it’s still there; it’s been there all along. It’s just a matter of time.

So the question for me is less about the breach of spacial borders than it is about the geography of time. It’s about the topographical span of a minute or a month or of millennia, where projections on the lives of others are made while yours goes on at the other side of the street or the city, across the border, or at the Atlantic’s other side. These are psychological walls as much as they are the open space of freedom. Meaning, the choice is ours: we can be open or closed. 

Closed means cursing a migrant and telling him to go away. Closed means looking past a homeless refugee like she is invisible, and staying ensconced in fear instead. Closed means that by ignoring the traumatized people walking among us––debilitated by visions of blood in Libya, of the slack bodies of their brothers and sisters sinking into the blue Mediterranean––we are preserving a version of reality that we tell ourselves is placid and just but is in fact fraught with the anxiety that we have not lived up to the might of our past.

History has set precedent for greatness and we’re bulldozing through it by discarding its fundamental building block, humanity. People are assets. We actually need each other to survive. But there are illusions over our eyes and no tremble in our voices as we neglect to accept accountability for who we might have harmed or ignored––then and right now––which, in the end, is only to spite our fragile fears and egos.

This is the foundation from which we build? Ignoring humanity is a value statement that says we’ve lost faith in ourselves: we are directionless if we are defensive, protective, un-seeking, not open. But we probably also contradict that in any number of our daily chance encounters and hellos. It’s a matter if we approach with that psychological wall around us or not.

“Wake me!” Sig. Gloria said, when I told him I didn’t want to bother him in the middle of the night about my bad dream, because he wanted to feel liked and necessary. People want to be called on and to care. It is all of our desire to be thought about and engaged so we can give that back to each other. Our actions do affect one another, as much as we are deceived that they do not. Our job is to say hi, to look people in the eye, to show up anyway, and to return––in my case, to Rome––to witness the truth, say what’s right, and to love, which are all one in the same thing.




* It was announced on 13 March 2018 that the hotspot would be closed for “temporary” renovations to repair its squalid conditions inside. However, the firsts tasks slated for completion are a new exterior fence and the installation of security cameras, two hallmark characteristics of an administrative detention center.