August 8th, 2002

Upside Down

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My Dear Jack, two things for you this morning. That’s me on Forio’s Chiaia beach with Mt. Epemeo in the background. A moment after I clicked the shutter I felt the head of the chair slowly sinking into the slope of the sand, and then it and I overturned. One moment you are lanquid in peace and tranquility, and the next you are upside down with sand in your snout. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere.

By the way, in real life there are ugly power lines in that particular view. I removed them with Adobe Photoshop. This is called gilding the lily. Or seeing what you wish to see. As you know, I’ve always been an idealist.

Anyway, a good caption for the picture would be that famous Oscar Wilde quote. When a journalist asked him what he did during the day as a poet, he replied, “In the morning I put a comma into one of my poems. In the afternoon I took it out.”

The other thing I’m enclosing is a reproduction of an old map of Ischia I bought at a bookstore near Bar Maria. The island is presented upside down, with North at the bottom. Why? Because that’s the view of the island from the mainland, where the map presumably was drawn. This is not documented history, of course, just a guess.

I am sorry to hear that work pressures keep you, Marcia and the kids from coming this summer. And please don’t worry, I’m not as distraught as these tears and groans might indicate. You should consider an obvious fact: visiting Ischia in the winter has tremendous advantages. The hotels are dirt cheap, even the four- and five-star outfits, and there are virtually no tourists crowding the streets. Think about it, lad. Please.

Not much to report about you-know-who. The latest word is that she might come in the middle of September. She will not tell me any specifics about the medical thing, other than it has to do with feminine plumbing and a doctor who keeps ordering tests and changing appointment dates. Despite that she has been rather good lately about correspondence. She tells me stories about her childhood in Buonopane, and I eagerly write them down. You know what they say. Writers don’t choose their subjects. The subjects choose them.

I’m strangely content in my solitude. Yesterday I thought a long time about Vittoria, and felt a delicious sort of longing. In that kind of aching nostalgia beautiful things take on a mystical glow, especially in late afternoon. Kind of like how you feel when you fall in love for the very first time. And I thought, well, maybe I’m entirely more suited to a long-distance relationship than one in the flesh, so to speak. In this situation it’s easy for me to idealze the woman I love.

More anon…

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