WHENEVER I TRAVEL TO SOMEPLACE NEW AND beautiful—Bora Bora or Cusco or Shanghai or the deserts around Petra—I feel an existential dread. I know that I probably won’t come back to wherever I am, and seeing the extraordinary beauty makes me aware that I have only one life to live.
The only place I have not experienced this is Rome. There were two reasons.
The first was practical. I had got a very good deal in terms of housing. As a writer, I was able to rent an apartment in the American Academy in Rome, which is located in an old mansion on the highest point of the highest hill in the city. The fact that I was paying so little, 600 euros to rent a one-bedroom apartment for two weeks, removed the pressure everyone feels when travelling that resources are limited, that every decision is a trade-off. This knowledge is a thorn that reminds one of time passing.
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