Once the commitment had been made, it was like I had been
thrust into a whirlwind. Marc and my older brother would soon
return to Ostia and Rome; but, just as quick, my cousin planned
to return with his and my collection of travel chests. During the
interim I was to scout around looking for a villa.
Before he left, I asked how we would pay for a villa? Not to
worry, Marc noted that he was a rich man. And once I collected
my thoughts, I realized that I was also financially capable what
with not only my Praetorian pension but also an un-cashed
property stipend. Beyond this I had interest money--as a "silent
partner" in my family's shipping corporation. It had steadily
accrued during all those years I spent in the Praetorian Guard.
So it appeared that I had a bundle that would help go to pay for
a villa. Marc agreed to the terms I put about the villa. But then
he dumped on me the task of finding one!
The Collegio Carthago was located in the gentle highlands at
the edge of Carthage, and there were villas situated in the area.
So I asked Quint to ask around about any that might be for sale.
I also went to my Praetorian friend, who had his finger on the
pulse of the province. Between the two I might have some luck
finding something quickly.
It worked! My Praetorian friend notified me that an unused villa
had been up for sale for a long time. It was in the right sector,
not at all far from the Collegio Carthago. The only trouble was
that it was small. Most people ignored this little villa, because
they were looking to house their family. But I figured it might
be perfect for a couple of bachelors like Marc and me.
The little villa was run down, but appeared to be architecturally
sturdy. There would be a lot of work to be done, but the price
was right. So I bid on a contract, but would not sign until Marc
returned. My cousin moved fast and was back in Carthage
before the month was out. He looked over the villa very
carefully, with a more trained eye than mine. Well, yes, it
needed some serious repairs and the atrium garden would
have to be re-established. No problem, Marc could build us
a garden that would be the envy of Carthage.
As for any architectural renovation, well we could both have
input and oversight. Agreed, we bought the little villa and
moved in our travel chests. No matter we didn't have any
furniture. That would come soon enough. First of all we
needed beds upon which to lay our head. The rest would
follow. It just took time.
After some months getting all this endeavor completed, we
finally had a home. It was the first *real* home for me since
my youth, when I grew-up in my father's house. Inaugurating
our villa, we threw a party for friends and family in Carthage.
Quietly observing all this, I was standing outside looking
down the slight hillside. There were a number of young people
lounging on the grass, laughing, eating, tasting wine. All of a
sudden it seemed in my mind's eye that I stood outside of
myself and looked across at the scene. Then it flashed before
me, I remembered that prophetic dream I had so long ago at
the Pergamon Asclepeion.
It was like at least a part of this curious dream had come true!
Though still not boasting white hair, I had begun to gray around
my temples. The party was actually a birthday party--mine!
I had just turned forty-five.