Visiting Rome last year – about which I shall witter in detail at a later point – something curious struck me. Although I’d been to Rome before, I recalled virtually nothing about it. Which is odd, bearing in mind that Rome is quite a memorable place.
I did remember a few things. The Capuchin Crypt. The Spanish Steps. And I vividly recall going up the dome St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, where there was a very narrow walkway which contrived to be simultaneously vertiginous and claustrophobic – where two Italian youths were busy writing graffiti on the whitewashed papal wall in green marker pen.
Yes. I don’t remember visiting the Pantheon, but I remember that the marker pen was green. I didn’t go up the dome last year, so I don’t know if the graffiti was still there. Look out for it next time you go.
I have a theory why these memories have eluded me. It’s because, on my first visit, I took lots of photos. Which I have lost. This time around, I probably took many of the same photos again.
But the point is, because I was taking photos, I wasn’t taking the time to remember. I think that’s a danger; you’re so busy snapping, you’re not actually experiencing in the moment.
So my thinking, when visiting places now, is to take as few photos as possible and to remember as much as possible. Not just sights, but sounds, smells, tastes, how much my feet hurt, what the girlfriend and I were chatting about.
Because why do people go on holiday? It’s to relax, to escape, and to collect memories, of scenes picturesque, exotic, hilarious and debauched to keep them going for the rest of the year. But you can’t collect memories if you’re too busy taking photos instead.