Of earthquakes and shattered dreams

Look at this ancient rubble.

I like to live in a fantasy world; a world where everything makes sense and the make believe is suddenly possible, a world where I really am everything and anything that I so desperately want to be. The writer, the wanderer, the reporter, the crusader for justice. The dark, exotic stranger with the long skirts and even longer eyelashes.

My greatest fear is that the world won’t weep when I die. At night, I write in my diary frenzied, eloquent lines about the emotions and aspirations that tangle through my life and bleed into the pages. The world has so much to offer (endless possibilities! Nobel Prizes to be won!) that I want to grab it and lock it into submission. In my fantasy world, I’m told I can.

I think, there’s no better time to start than the summer. In Florence, I assume I’ll lead the somewhat charmed, somewhat glamorous life of a dynamic future lawyer ­­— reading Tolstoy, drinking Chianti, arguing about politics with worldly scholars.

Thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk.

It’s 4 a.m. when I blink my eyes open to see the walls of the bedroom shake and groan. I’ve woken to a 6.1 earthquake. But in my world, not even earthquakes can destroy me. I fall back to sleep.

My internship is everything I had imagined it to be — full of trade experts and international lawyers, professors and stimulating conversation. Climate change and the impact of tuna fishing! Border tax adjustments! The inefficiency of the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism! Complex terms spin and tumble in my head, mixing with the red wine and my inexperience. I hope to change the world yet I cower when asked my opinion.

At night, Neruda strokes my skin and I wish things were different.

The earthquake shudders around me but I fall back to sleep, to dreams where I’m an Amazonian supermodel, where I’m writing books about trade policy and economic theory, where I really am everything I want to be. I dream to protect myself — from reality, from boredom, from dissilusionment. But here’s the thing: that night, my chandelier swung and shattered, and I narrowly missed being impaled. I was silly; I should have woken up.

Nine days later, when the second earthquake ripped across the city, I was ready.

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