Keats-Shelley Memorial House

I dreamed of the Keats-Shelley house last night. I was walking through the creaky house on a warm summer’s day and standing in Keats’s room, looking out the window onto the Spanish steps. The air is still a time capsule in itself. There is no life in this place, only a place of ghosts. I clutched my copy of Frankenstein, wondering about time as I recited my favorite quotations.

Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” ― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein.

Though Mary Shelly didn’t write Frankenstein here, the Shelley name is what first brought me here, but the house itself, like the terrace in the back looking over the steps, causes my frequent return. 

I once had an interview here but knew I wouldn’t get the job because I didn’t have an EU passport and the museum wouldn’t be able to sponsor me, but I was desperate to stay in Rome and hoped it would lead to something. It was the only time I was allowed past the velvet ropes and into the attic. Where the two gentlemen sat day in and day out, organizing a way to keep the house afloat since it is an independent charity that receives no official funding. It was a small room with small windows to let in the light as the two desks faced each other, alluding to what it was like to be dedicated to those who had passed.   

I still visit the house often when I’m in the city. There is just something about it that makes you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. That’s primarily because they haven’t changed the decor of the house. But every time I step into Keats’s room, it feels like I will break the barriers of time themself and see him lying on the bed fighting for his life. Twenty-five is such a young age to die. It always makes me think about time and question the theories of man. Is time a liner thing? Is it all happening at once or is what’s is done is done and shall never be again? So often, people talk about time travel, and it makes me question whether it is possible or if people are too desperate for it to be so that they hope they can speak it into existence. Honestly, I have found myself occasionally wishing it to be true if only to see that it is a possibility, but then the reality of those times sets in, and I would prefer it not. Spanish influenza, the Black Plague, Tuberculosis, and even scurvy are illnesses I would rather not have to worry about. Even with our issues in the US, I am still the freest a woman has ever been, and I cherish this fact and recognize that it is not valid for everyone and give thanks that I have the abilities I do. But the chance to meet your idols or to be able to see a moment like the library of Alexandria, or even to be able to speak to a loved one just one more time is enticing, and I can see why it would lead one to wonder and hope. But for now, it’s just another day on the Resolution sailing to LA, and it is time to get up for yoga. 

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