July 28th, 2002

A Good Old Time

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Frustrations, one after another.

The computer keeps locking up, and I spend far too many hours trying to eliminate the gremlins that are causing it. Photo paper for my printer has not yet come in from Naples, and I have been waiting four weeks now. When will it arrive? Perhaps next Wednesday. And on top of that the other day heavy winds blew my TV parabola off its alignment with the sattelite—for the fifth time in two months—and the cheerful repairman promised to come fix it oggi sera, later this afternoon, but he didn’t come. When I called he said perhaps domani, tomorrow. If I’m lucky he’ll be here before the winter solstice.

On the phone I told the professor about these things. He laughed. I asked him what in hell was funny. He replied that he thought it was a rip that an impatient and unaccepting man like me has made a home, of all places, in Italy. “What could you have been thinking?” he asked.

I did not tell him what had really driven me up the wall. Which was Vittoria’s announcement that her visit on the 13th must be rescheduled still once again. She said in an IM she was very upset, but the doctor had told her more tests must be performed. When? Uh, in a few weeks. I asked her if she could be any more specific about the time, and she said no, she couldn’t. Does this doctor have any clue as to what is wrong with you? No, she replied, he does not. That’s why all the tests.

Something about it didn’t sound right to me. So I said nothing.

“I know you’re mad, but it’s not my fault,” she finally said.
“How many times has this alleged visit been set and then cancelled?” I asked.
“Four, maybe five times now.”
“Well, what am I supposed to make of it?”
“What do you want me to tell you?” I said.
Furious, I logged off. Rapidly typed a nasty e-mail. “I’m totally and thoroughly fed up,” I wrote. “After a while these repeated delays are telling me you really don’t plan to ever come here. If that’s the case, why don’t you just say so?”

And I added a few other nasty things, just so she would get the picture.

Then, unable to work or even to listen to music, I threw a lunch into a plastic sack, went down to Forio Porto and rented a boat. I had to do something with myself.

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Lots of boats were out and about. I went slowly, and watched carefully. All these people, these normal people, most of them couples hunkered cheek by jowl, taking snapshots, drinking beer, having a good old time. I chugged around Punta Imperatore, and moved closer to the rocky layered cliffs, looking for a secluded grotto or inlet where I could stop, eat, and maybe take a nap.

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I remembered a place that would be just right, but when I got there it was already occupied by a strange couple on a rubber dinghy. I turned the boat, and thrust the throttle forward all the way. The engine roared and I made a big frothy white turbulence, which I hoped those annoying interlopers would see as my displeasure at their presence. I headed offshore. After three or four kilometers, I shut down.

Chewing on my bread and cheese and peaches I thought of a few years ago when Sue, my editor in New York, patiently listened to me whine about a girlfriend who I thought was doing me wrong. I went on and on about how the girl was so thoughtlessly ripping out my heart, blah, blah, blah. And then Sue said quietly, “James, what in hell are you doing in a relationship that’s not working?”

Naturally I didn’t have an answer. As for Vittoria and me, well, what? Am I prepared to say that our thing is in that category? More to the point, am I ready to just give the whole damned thing up say good bye?

My mind was blank. I couldn’t think straight. All that came to mind were tough unanswerable questions. And no clue.

I finished my lunch, and took a long drink of aqua minerale. I lay down on the deck face down, closed my eyes, and felt the gentle rocking of the boat. I drifted off. I awoke acutely anxious, with my heart pounding. I could not remember the bad dream.

When I got back home I logged onto the ISP to see if Vittoria had read the e-mail I’d sent her. She had not. I let out a long breath, and hit the mail program’s “unsend” button. Then I typed out another message:

“The only thing I can think of is that our Higher Power is trying to teach us something. For me it's probably acceptance and patience. I can't imagine what He/She/It has in mind for you. Any ideas?”