I love dawn, when I’m awakening and still not yet fully conscious. I feel no fear, self-doubt, or the growing certainty that Vittoria is gone forever. For a few moments I’m a boy at the start of summer vacation. Everything is possible. And then…
My heart rate goes up when it all comes back, and—intent on banishing negative thoughts—I turn over and begin my meditation. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. In any event, I do my morning ritual.
As I dress I think about January 2002, when Vittoria and I were together. The last few hours at the hotel near Dorney Park, both of us knowing how hard saying goodbye will be. Somehow I managed to bluff my way through the whole thing. I was determined to be calm and strong. What did I tell her?
“I’m not abandoning you, sweetie, it’s the opposite,” I say. “I’m doing the only thing that might get you to break free. I’ll be waiting for you in Italy. No matter how long it takes.”
A final embrace. Then I put my hands on both sides of her face, and kiss her gently on her cheeks, her forehead, her lips. She has to understand that I'll always love her. But how futile this gesture is! Tenderness doesn’t work anymore, it will just make the coming solitude more painful.
I guess Vittoria knew then that it was over. I didn’t, and still don’t.