Apart from being one of the most exciting tours in terms of singing, this was meant to be a short holiday of sorts for me. I hadn’t been away without my family since before I became a mum and I needed some head space. I knew I would miss my family but I was ready to risk a few tears if it meant I could sit alone in a place nobody knew me, reading and writing as I pleased.
It turned out to be more; much, much more. During those few days in Rome, I experienced a rebirth. I had been alluding to some changes that were happening or that I wanted to happen for some time, but I didn’t know how these changes would come about. It took a trip to Rome, taking a selfie with the Pope, catching up with old friends and singing in front of the world. It sounds complicated, but it could not have happened in a simpler way.
In case you’re asking yourself what happened exactly, I’ll to try to explain it in a few words (those of you who know me are probably chuckling at the thought of me using a few words). In a nutshell, I had forgotten who I was. I had become a wife and mum. Of all the roles I’ve ever taken on, those two are the ones I’m proudest of and having a family will forever be my highest calling. Those two roles, however, had come to define me. I had forgotten the almost three decades of life that had preceded Maia’s birth.
Before I was a mum and wife, I was a girl who lived for music, especially the couple of hours a week spent singing with the choir, the theatre and literature. Nothing made me happier than learning a new piece by Palestrina with my fellow choristers. I lived vicariously through my friends who are professional singers and musicians. My idea of fun was attending a concert of classical music or the opening of an art exhibition. Then I gave birth and forgot about myself. Maia became my world and I never looked back.
The only link to my previous life was the choir, most of whom never studied music but were raised on a diet of Perosi and Bartolucci. Our love for sacred polyphony is the blood that makes us a family. After almost three years of absence from those weekly meetings, I decided to grab the rope that had almost slipped away and pulled myself back to shore before I drowned in the sea of mundanity I had allowed myself to slip into. Soon after came this trip to the Eternal City and its timing was perfect. I spent most of my free time sitting in cafés and restaurants, writing until my wrist hurt. Wifi connection there was not as ubiquitous as it is on our island, which was so refreshing. I did notice a few withdrawal symptoms, especially when I experienced moments or sights I wanted to share with my friends and family through Instagram, but I’m so glad I was forced to stay offline for most of those five days. Neil Gaiman was once asked where he felt was the best place to write and his reply was “anywhere without wifi”. Now I know why.
I realised that the noise created by the internet, especially by the constant use and checking of social media, had become like a cloud enveloping my brain. Not being able to check on friends through Facebook or post photos to Instagram had a cathartic effect. I grabbed a pen and a notepad and unloaded years of thoughts, feelings, stories, hopes and dreams. I feel so much lighter now. My vision is clearer and I feel ready to make this year my best one yet.