It has been a long time since I literally faced something I HAD to do. Looking at the screen of the computer I am too tired to be really bright, too wiped to be ornery, having flown all night from NY to London, privileged to be actually stretched out on a semblance of a bed on the plane, but not comfortable enough to really sleep. I have lost the easily slipped on travel cloak, so apprehension built up in me on my way to this (I hope) great adventure, a country house some miles from Rome where I intend to (will I?) write my best book. The owner, Giuseppe Di Milia, is a retired Italian diplomat who bought it for when he retired for him and his wife, who has sadly died. I told Kristin, my friend who runs the travel service that found the place for me that if this were going to be a romance novel, I would get there and he would be Franco Nero. But it is not my intent to seek or even hope for love. I am fixed on the idea of my breaking through to a novel that is riveting, a tribute, un-put-downable. Tp dp that I must capture my own complete attention, and want nothing but art. Oh, and maybe Justice.
` Just do it.
The owner, Gisussepe, whom I believe to be in his seventies was to have met me at the airport, a gallant suggestion he made when I expressed some anxiety at finding my way to I Castagni myself. But he could not come and instead is sending his son. If this were a Nicholas Sparks novel, (see Message in a Bottle, the movie of which unleashed my first incident of projectile vomiting-really--) I would get to Rome, the son would have a yen for older women we would fall in love to the horror of the father, and, his objections finally overcome,Giorgio or Cesare or whatever his name turns out to be and I would finally get Papa's blessing, and he would go into town(there is one) to buy the ring- her hands(mine) have been bare since the early death of her husband. Whilst(I am on British Airways now) he drives to Rome for the jewel the widow waits, heart beating happily, her romantic optimism , her vanished dream of love restored. Then the son gets killed coming back on the Autostrada. (See Night at Rodanthe: that is his formula, love lost, love unexpectedly regained, and then he dies.) In their mutual grief, as Giuseppe consoles her, they fall in a sort of love, and she pretends to herself that old affection is as good as getting fucked.
I meant to write it last night on the plane from JFK to Heathrow, but I fell asleep, though I imagine if I knew how to touch-type I could have done it with my eyes closed.
ROME!!! There you are outside the window. Speak to me of Eternity, Art, Passion, the Glory of Nature, History, Women who Aspire, Five Coins in the Fountain(it's been a long time, and everything is more expensive.)
Not exactly how it turns out. Giuseppe is kind of a wreck, polite, gentille, showing up in place of his son, unable to drive my car as he has a tendency to stop short since it is an automatic, so I drive it myself. It takes forever, twisting road included, and Capranica is not a town, even, but a grocery store and a pizza parlor and one Gypsy with his wares, socks, potholders, strung on a line across what could generously be called a piazza. We dine in the pizza parlor, and he insists on picking up the check, which I allow him to do since there are, as Nancy Boyarsky predicted, no screens on the windows and no cross ventilation, so stuffy is too understated a word, and there are bees, even though G. promised me, charmingly, 'bugs are not available.' I have of course packed clothes for a Mardi Gras but understand now I can live in a T-shirt, and the pool, gotten to by tracking down an unmaneuverable staircase cut into the earth, with wooden slats, is too cold to swim in. Nothing works, not my cell phone, not the card I bought at the airport for 24 euros, (20 to the saleswoman, her commission for being smart enough to blindside me) and, finally wined out, or wined down, I go to sleep till 3 AM, resorting to prayer that this will not be as bad as it feels right now. I take a sleeping pill and sleep till 11 AM when Guiseppe is gone to Rome, leaving the aged caretaker Pepino to try and work the Internet. We finally get Giuseppe on the phone and he tells me he has never been so offended, presumably because I am obviously so unhappy with his beautiful, primitive country house, where he intended to live peaceably the rest of his life with his wife, who died. I apologize many times but he will not be consoled. I call my great friend in the hotel business, retired, Natale Rusconi for help in re-locating but he is napping.
Pepino and I go to the market where I buy a great deal of wine from Puglia, some vegetables and some sunblock, the thing I was most prepared to bring but have forgotten. Pepino weighs everything(except the sunblock) the terminal at the grocery store is down so my Master Card doesn't work. I pay cash and Pepino tells me Giuseppe is a hysteric, so that seems an indication I must not be.
I return to I Castagni(look it up on the Internet, it looks fucking palatial,) pick some ripe figs from the tree outside my door, eat them, carefully stepping between the over=ripe ones that have fallen on the ground, drink a great deal of NegroAmaro Puglia(really good) and try to believe, as the prophet of profit said, "Tomorrow is another day."