July 21st, 2004

When Vittoria Comes

Last Saturday Vittoria announced that her adoptive father had decided to take them all on a three-week vacation to Arki, a remote Greek island eight nautical miles from Patmos. She assured me she intended to take her laptop and cellphone, so as to stay in touch. I suggested there'd be trouble getting her computer hooked up to the phone line, unless the hotel is familiar with that sort of thing. Plus there’s the issue of an adaptor plug. Would she be able to find one before she left Florida? She said she would try.

I asked her when she was leaving. She replied she wasn’t sure exactly, but it would be within a few days. She didn’t log on Monday, nor did she yesterday, so I presume she’s already gone. I’m going to miss our IM sessions, such as they were. At least in those internet exchanges I was able to sustain the illusion of propinquity.

For nearly four years we’ve been frozen into the early stage of a relationship. On my part I'm endlessly yearning to have something more real than what we’ve had so far. But despite determined effort nothing has happened. There's some small comfort in thinking if we had moved in together back in 1997 by now we’d be bored, like an old married couple. So in a sense we’ve been exempted from that sad but inevitable development.

Four years. We came close once. She was a week from getting on a plane to spend a month or two with me here on Ischia. That would have been a turning point. But then came the news of her being adopted, and her subsequent dissociative state, amnesia.

Sylvia says after waiting all this time with no result, I should give up and move on. But unfortunately I've made a commitment. When I say those words she replies that Vittoria hasn’t honored any commitment to me, so my obligation is void. Well, yes, that's true. But listen: Vittoria is still seriously impaired. If she weren’t, I probably would have given up long ago.

The fact is I’m at the stage of my life where I will not allow myself to break any more promises. I’ve broken entirely too many—as a son, a lover, a husband, a father. Even as a suit in Corporate America.

It’s about the ancient notion of Akasa. All the rotten things we do eventually come back three fold, and I mean all of them, with excruciating specificity. I could give you a long list from direct personal experience. And by now I’ve just had enough. Can’t bear the pain anymore. Solitude--compared to triple payback--is not so bad. There’s a strange satisfaction in making amends…finally.

This morning instead of turning right after climbing the stone wall at the end of the rugged path from the top of Punta Caruso, I took a left and encountered Mezzatorre Resort & Spa. This is where old money comes to unwind for a few weeks. The place is beautiful—but empty, strange. All this natural and manufactured beauty is reserved for the elite. A splendid, unspoiled view of the sea. Far away from the hustle and bustle of the village. No traffic noise whatever. All vehicles are stopped at the distant gate. There are several elegant restaurants, each in a different style and theme, all with linen and sliverware and crystal.

I can see us sitting at a table by the open window overlooking the bay. When my sweet Vittoria returns from Greece I’ll send her the image. Let her know what awaits her. When she comes.

* * *

Pisces Daily Horoscope

For the next day or so, you'll be quite focused on a dear one -- most likely your lover. Don't worry about going overboard. She really needs you.

* * *

That’s it in a nutshell. Vittoria needs me. Which is why I won’t abandon her. Ever.

* * *

I’m comfortably settled into a daily routine. I get out of bed at dawn. Twenty push-ups and sit-ups, five different repetitions with the hand weights, followed by a shower. A cup of strong coffee. Read email, transcribe notes. Then head out with my camera to throughly document the geography, architecture and people of this enchanted place where my Vittoria grew up. And as I walk slowly from one location to another I have plenty of time to think about her, and our improbable involvement. In fact, that’s virtually all I do these days. They tell me I’m unhealthily obsessed. But I laugh. It’s my time and I’ll do what I damned well please with it.

When I get blue, I recall the excitement of my early encounters with Vittoria. By chance she found one of my short stories on an internet literary magazine, and, after reading my bio and looking at my photo, she sent me an email. At first I thought it was bogus. Too good to be true. But to my great surprise it—and she—turned out to be genuine.

(To be continued…)