For months I had studied Roman art and architecture and how they work together, terms like nave, arch, radiating chapels, oculus, and altar had become part of a vocabulary that only a few had heard and an even fewer had read. It was a side of me that I loved, but I also hated the certain pretension that came with it. How do you say this sentence without sounding like an asshole, “Low relief carvings portraying Emperor Trajan’s defeat of the Dacian’s, which was used to store his ashes after is death in 117 AD”? I don’t think that you can. I had arrived on assignment early. I was to be at the at Altar of the Fatherland at 8. I had left early wanting to see a side of town that I normally see in the darkest, coldest, and bleakest hours of the night (nights that I hardly remember (and am glad that I don’t)), in the morning, and by myself; this was not the type of morning to have company. After some time in the cold and bright morning, I approached that grand marble building at the end of Via Victor Emanuel II, as I walked up, I saw a thin tube several blocks away. My dirty glasses blurred what it was. I told myself that there was no way that it was Trajan’s Column. I denied it vehemently. No way! Certainly, that can't be it! It certainly was. For all those hours I had poured into books and research and papers and citations at the Fine Arts Library in Arkansas, getting yelled at for daring to bring in a cup of steaming coffee without a lid on a cold winter day or for bringing in food that was too warm (I always found that in poor taste); Phil, the Fine Arts librarian, will always hold a special place in my heart for how much he cared about those books. All of those incredibly dangerous drives home on ice and through storms in the early morning after working through the night. All of those hours and moments struck me at once as I squinted upward at somethingI thought I would never see, at something I never realized I had a chance to look at. Those long nights put the column (and this whole city) on a pedestal, the tallest one I had ever seen. Complicated and pretentious words described this city’s landscape in unexplainable ways. They worded this rather simple, yet elegantly chaotic city, in a way that no one could ever really understand, and I don't think they (those who pretension had gripped with such force) knew what they were saying. Pretension is like alidless coffee without a lid, a step too far or a step too fast leads to embarrassing stains on pants and shirts, minor burns, and wasted dollars.