21 April 2009

Happy Birthday, Rome

American Girl in Italy, 1951 © Ruth Orkin

The eternal city celebrates its founding on this day in 753 BC. According to legend, twins Romulus and Remus - sons of the god Mars and Rhea Silvia, daughter of the king of Alba Longa - were ordered to be drowned in the Tiber by Rhea's uncle who wanted the throne for himself. Instead they floated downstream and were rescued by Lupa, a she-wolf. A shepherd eventually found them, raised them as his own, and Romulus went on to found Rome after killing Remus for making fun of him over a wall (oh, that Mars temper!)

It's amazing the power images can have over one. When I saw this famous photograph of An American Girl in Italy by Ruth Orkin, something seismic happened inside of me. At the time, I was in college in the middle of Ohio where Birkenstocks - not gladiator sandals - were de rigueur (although I NEVER went down that path, I assure you) and couldn't have been further from this street scene which seemed so worldly and glamorous to me. Click! Within days, I had changed my major to Latin and started counting down the days to when I would spend my semester abroad at the Centro in Rome.

Couple in MG, Florence, Italy, 1951 © Ruth Orkin

Why this long story? Because the best decisions I've ever made have come from the gut, and life is too short not to go for it. Because it's important to step outside of your box and expose yourself to new things - whether they are old guard or avant garde. If you don't know what your passion is, you're not going to find it doing and looking at the same old things. Because the key to being eternal - like Rome - is to evolve and embrace change.

Click here to read about the making of the photographs (which sadly were taken in Florence, not Rome).


Janet said...

Rest assured, I have no illusions of ever finding an old photo of you in Birks. Love that Orkin. Lartigue too.

Mrs. Blandings said...


Rose C'est La Vie said...

I studied Latin at school and loved it but never made it to Rome for a long time. When you see the
City for the first time, or indeed any time, it's heart-stopping. That first image reminded me of Roman Holiday, ohh. Loved your advice about following your instincts. It's never too late.

Emily Evans Eerdmans said...

Janet, you know me well! Maybe it's a rebellion against all those Earth Shoes my mother favored? (However I did contemplate those thong Birks in silver, but alas they didn't suit my feet.)