In my picture memory, everything is lush. Distant mountains are painted upon the sky. The rush of traffic is a cacophonous yet comforting murmur and ivy clings to iron gates set into the sidewalk. Waves glisten beside great slabs of pavement which touch the ocean downtown. There is a bakery on every corner and an ice cream shop always within walking distance.
The military base was set into a hill. It was called "The Hill" by military folk and the base itself was tiny, allowing room only for a small grocery store, mail room and restaurant. From the entrance of the base one could also hike to the very top of the hill, which was seemingly more than a hill but much less than a mountain, to view a sort of tomb and assorted statuary of a biblical nature. I was once forced to make this hike, so I'm slightly bitter.
We lived atop our own hill, up a shockingly steep grade our car could not surmount when it rained. A family of stray cats lounged about the streets below. Orange and lime trees were scattered about; the driveway was roofed in a net of grapevines; olive trees lined up on a shelf of land directly behind our home.
Our landlady lived somewhere to the left our our home and could often be heard yelling to her daughter-in-law in the apartment below us. The scenery viewed from our sprawling terrace was a watercolor. If one looked carefully enough there was a small patch of ocean caught between swathes of greenery; many a morning was spent with neck craned in an attempt to view my father's ship as it left its port. He was gone most of the time, at sea, which I think made us all happiest.
In three years we would be transferred to a military base an hour's drive away, a change which was more than palpable. The level of pollution in our new area made it difficult to leave the house without suffering a headache, adolescence hit me hard and my family unit soon entered into the latter stages of crumbling. My memories of that time are tinged with gray and I like to forget them.
The station in Gaeta shifted its command shortly after we left and has since shrunk into almost nonexistence.
My mental picture of this town and these times dims as I attempt any consolidation of memory; it is as if it never existed or existed in a dream. But that's okay - I like this dream memory. It's happy there.
Days until college: 12
* Terrible phrase, world, but the only one that fit. I'm appalled, really.