top of page
Search

Loved Ones in Italy

In Michelangelo’s most famous Sistine Chapel image, The Creation of Adam, God’s outstretched hand is about to touch that of Adam’s and give him life. The gap between their fingers foreshadows the impending contact, depicting the ethereal current of “celestial life surrounding God ready to flow into the waiting body of Adam.”



The composition perhaps derives from the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus (Come Holy Spirit), which was sung before each afternoon vote during papal conclave.


Thou, sevenfold in thy gifts,

Finger of the paternal right hand,

Thou, duly promised of the Father

Enriching our throats with the word

Let thy light inflame our senses,

Pour thy love into our hearts,

Strengthen us infirm of body

Forever with thy manly vigor.


As I listen to the hymn and write, I think not of St Peter’s Cathedral and its packed crowds, but of the baroque San Siro in Genoa. The light was streaming in from the clerestory windows below the dome, and all was quiet. Allen said the church was beautiful, and if he grew up going to San Siro, he would believe in God. But he didn’t, and neither did I. So for me, creation and ethereal currents are not found in biblical imageries, but in human connections.


Parents in front of St. Peter's, San Giro in Genoa, and sunset in Vernazza.


For the past week, I felt loved. My parents and Allen visited Rome, and together we journeyed north to Florence, Cinque Terre and Genoa. I enjoyed showing them around–my dorm, my desk at school, Largo Argentina where I cat-watch, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, the Tiber, St. Peter's, Campidoglio, the Roman Forums, Colosseum, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain… Places that have already become a part of my daily life were once again exciting, and I searched my memory for histories and fun facts to share.


Sherrye once said that they love it when their different friend groups converge. Likewise, I found so much beauty in spending time with both my parents and Allen. Together, the four of us sampled Roman classics at Renato e Luisa, enjoyed pomegranate juice and the Limited della Paradiso in Florence, and feasted on seafood in Cinque Terre. We climbed the Spanish steps, meandered through the Giardino Bardini and searched for sunset in Vernazza. Then, when my parents wanted to relax, Allen and I broke off to venture atop the Civic Tower at Palazzo Vecchio, hike along the picturesque coasts of Monterosso al Mare, watch manatees and jellyfish at the Genoa Aquarium designed by Renzo Piano.


Portraits of each other at sunset :)


Then in a flash, I was hugging my mom goodbye on the train tracks, and waving farewell to Allen as he entered airport security. I went on with life, going to the farmer’s market with Thuan, making salad with fresh Tuscan kale, and running along the Tiber. At night, I visited the Sant’Anselmo on the Aventine Hill for vespers with Gregorian hymns. As the Benedictine monks sung prayers reminiscent of Veni Creator Spiritus, I finally had time to reflect. After seven days of going, seeing, talking, I was again alone with my thoughts. I felt the wooden pews under me, but in my head I was sitting at the kitchen counter watching my mom cut up fruit in the morning, I was reading Rick Steves' Travel Guide as Allen fell asleep next to me on the train, we were dragging our luggage through the tunnel by the Monterosso al Mare train station, eating quesadillas and taco salad in Genoa… These three individuals integrated into my life so naturally, making me feel as if I were living at home again, or working in New York City. I felt alive and in love!


Goofing around in Florentine leather jackets, and trying the Limited della Paradiso from All'Antico Vinaio.


Yet suddenly, they left.


After the vespers I walked back to my apartment on the sidewalks I shared with them only days prior. I recall a late night conversation I had with my suitemate Anna right before spring break. At first, when you miss someone, you yearn for their presence. However, as time passes, they become so far removed from daily life that missing them becomes a habit–you remember that something is amiss, but not exactly what it was like to possess it. Even now, the outlines of their bodies have already blurred and waiting is returning to normalcy. I wait through classes, through meals, through nights and days. I wait until the time zones line up and all schedules are free, and only then, can we meet virtually and attempt to describe our experiences and feelings.


Sometimes it is almost silly. I feel like I am trying to remold the best gelato hours after it has melted, and then extending it through the screen and hopelessly wishing it can reach someone thousands of miles away. In preschool, I hid cookies at snack time in my pocket for my mom. Yet when I excitedly unwrapped them for her after school, I found only crushed crumbs. She said thanks, but I never tried to do it again. Then, my mom and I could have shared cookies any day. Now, however, me describing gelato to her and her showing me dinner at home is our best attempt to recreate shared experiences. It would be great if I have someone who can pour love in my heart and strengthen my body with an ethereal current. Yet, I don’t. So I wait, until we meet again.


*quote and the English translation of Veni Creator Spiritus are both from History of Italian Renaissance Art, by Frederick Hartt.

101 views6 comments

Recent Posts

See All

6 commentaires


Invité
29 mars 2023

We were so enjoyed being with you! We are starting to miss you and looking forward to seeing you next time, with love! Love you!

J'aime

Invité
27 mars 2023

aw this is such a touching piece! i am now also filled with appreciation for my loved ones hehe - thuanthuan

J'aime
Desai Wang
Desai Wang
27 mars 2023
En réponse à

aww thuanthuan~ love you lots!

J'aime

calmboa
27 mars 2023

Until we meet again, with love, calmboa. I love your words so much - the blurred outlines, the melted gelato, the normalcy and the routine and how they oscillate and how quickly we adapt... Love you!

J'aime
Desai Wang
Desai Wang
27 mars 2023
En réponse à

hi calmboa! I think I know who you are but am waiting for confirmation. Love you regardless 😍

J'aime

Invité
27 mars 2023

Wow! The portraits are so cute! Happy that you had such a good time. Remember, there is light at the end of remolding the gelato!

J'aime

Desai Wang

bottom of page