My dear Jack, here is a picture I took at the summit of Vesuvius. I usually don’t raise my camera that close to people because I know it’s a serious invasion of privacy, but I was struck—as you will immediately see—by how much this couple reminded me of Mom and Dad (except that Dad did not smoke!). When I saw them up there I was suddenly filled with a great ache and longing, thinking about the four of us together in New York. I suppose I still haven’t wrapped my mind around their being gone. I keep wondering: Why?
And what’s even more perplexing is that I seem to be experiencing a sort of replay of their departure. As if God is taunting me, or playing a perverse game whereby He gives me a taste of something wonderful, and then for some reason takes the cup away. Is it because I’ve done something terribly wrong either in this life or one before?
Do you remember right after Marylin ran off with what’s-his-name, the day trader? Mom, Dad, you and I were in the library and you said that being dumped was a totally new experience for you, but at the same time very strangely familiar. And then Dad got out his copy of Ulysses and found that passage in Ithaca, and read aloud. Jack, do you remember the sound of his voice when he read to us?
“To reflect that each one who enters imagines himself to be the first to enter whereas he is always the last term of a preceding series even if the first term of a succeeding one, each imagining himself to be first, last, only and alone, whereas he is neither first nor last nor only nor alone in a series originating in and repeated to infinity.”
That’s what I’m getting a sense of, that I’m stuck like a needle in a flawed record. Over and over again, the same thing. I’m probably overstating the case, trying to make it more significant or weighty than it actually is, but I’m sorry, that’s just how it feels right now.
I’m not giving up on Vittoria. I won’t yield to my impatience and anger. When she comes back—IF she comes back—I’ll I tell her I understand. I won’t ask her where in hell she was all this time, or what in hell she was doing, and with whom, and by the way would you care to share with me where you picked up that French aphorism about lies and illusions? Was it perchance from one of your multitude of internet friends? Who by the way are exclusively MEN? And did it ever occur to you that everybody was going absolutely crazy with worry? Couldn’t you have given just one small thought to how WE must have felt?