I am so happy to be in touch with you all. It wasn’t easy. Fifty euros and a chiavetti later (that’s the thing that connects you) I was finally able to figure out how to send a personal e-mail, and, piu importante, how to get one back, without using up all fifty euros. All through my so-called career at the Wall Street Journal it was the Reports that kept me sane, or sort of, because as great as it was to go to all those places, and for all the great people I met, I was alone. But I had you.
At the start of this adventure I complained to my daughter and myself that I had never really been anyplace I was, I was so busy writing, or writing about the place, that I never actually experienced it, for all my training with Jack, my beloved Jewru. I had never been there, that is to say HERE, or anywhere when you got down to it.
So determining to be in the present, I screwed myself again, by believing I was in Venice to write, as I had not been able to even try to do in Capranica, though I had managed to fall in love(Samuele was eighteen months old, built like a tank, with a haircut like Aldo Ray, so I told his mother to join Netflix, as if they could find Capranica, and watch Pat and Mike, Tracy and Hepburn for those of you who are young.) But when I wrote(I started the moment I was sort of settled) it was, according to my lifelong editor and friend, Bob, who for all his many brilliant careers was never in the diplomatic corps, ‘awful.’ That is a word that resonates deep in the belly, and when I recovered and spoke to him, he told me to take some days off. “I know you don’t like to think about it,” he said, insightfully, “but we’re not getting any younger.” In other words seize the giorno, and enjoy that you are in venice where a lot of people would like to be. He assigned me Lido, so I went on the vaporetto and found my way to the beach and sat on some rocks and looked at a sparkling sea and waited for an epiphany, but none came. I’d been vegetarianing since I got here, imagining I wanted to live as long as possible so I could write many books and plays and movies and songs, but as I am uninspired I ate prosciutto and melon and prayed that God would forgive me, especially since it is Rosh Hashonah and not give me trichinosis. Then I had an ice cream , rum raisin, and ate only the raisins, oh maybe just a bit of the ice cream, and then when I got to the port I had, oh just half of another flavor. There are no full length mirrors in Pietro’s house, which is either a curse or a mercy. When I got home I took a hot bath, which is a major endeavor, as the water, now that Pietro has fixed it so it’s hot—I had dinner with his parents when it wasn’t, so wanting to be clean but not complain I carried several pots of boiling water(I hadn’t watched them, but they still took a long time) up the slippery stairs, praying the whole time, and finally had enough to at least bathe my parts. Now the water, fixed, comes in scalding, so I have to wait till there’s so much of it and then turn on the cold. This process takes about an hour until the tub is a decent level but I have still not been able to take a Jacuzzi which is one of its adorable if impractical features since you have to get it to exactly the right level or it explodes. The tub itself is also a peculiar shape—if I had paid more attention in Biology I could probably tell you if it resembles a paramecium or something more specific like a sperm, but you have to be very careful getting out or you can’t.
One of the great features of Venice is that they pick up your garbage if you leave it outside your door early in the morning. I saved my really important garbage, the too soft figs I bought from the boat the is on one of the canals every morning and made jam out of, but not the too soft ones, and the shell of the melon, with all its seeds, and some teabags and really unpleasant things and put it out this morning. Elisa, my darling friend, Pietro’s sister, in giving me the tour of the house, neglected to tell me they didn’t pick it up on Domenica, which is today. But the alert apparently went out to the wild roaming dogs, and when I opened my front door this morning, it had been torn to shreds, the contents scattered all over the street. So I had to get down on my hands and knees which also are not getting any younger, and pick it all up, put it in many other bags as it appeared to have many times replicated itself, and then toss soap and water in great pails onto the street, very Anna Magnani it felt like, before mopping it all up.
I am put in mind of Mr. Blanding’s Dream House, though it is missing Cary Grant, or the Egg and I, except they don’t make movies like that anymore, as none of them could star Julia Roberts. For some peculiar reason she was on an Italian TV show last night(I watch TV to try and improve my Italian,) which was kind of, I have to guess, since my understanding isn’t that sharp, the local Oprah, a blonde woman with a basso voice who goes on and on telling the heart-wrenching story of the wife who looked like Lorraine Bracco, and kept reacting with pain and some tears to the story of her and her husband, who was on a different screen, looking abashed at what he had or hadn’t done, and in between there were long close-ups of Julia Roberts looking really moved and patient that it was going on and on and on and only a little uncomfortable that she had nothing to do or say and couldn’t really chew her gum except when she thought nobody was looking. I am assuming she was getting a translator feed, as she did manage to put a consoling hand on the poor wife at a moment of particular related (I’m guessing) anguish. Finally Julia was invited to speak (“now?” I caught her asking) and she first of all (saying “First of all”) congratulated him on having such a wonderful wife, and then told him not to squeeze the toothpaste in the middle of the tube anymore, but otherwise there were no complaints, and then the wife came in in a wedding gown and crown and veil to the music from ‘Pretty Woman’, that song ‘SHE’ which I guess might have been Italian originally or at least is now, and they were allowed to have the wedding they apparently had been too hard[pressed for either time or money to have the first time, and Julia was the bridesmaid. It was all most peculiar, and I can’t imagine why she was there and could not help thinking, the whole time she was looking uncomfortable, that she was saying to herself “I must kill my fucking publicist.”
So that’s all the news from the Chiesa(thank you Howards) close to San Barnaba. I am going upstairs now to try and take a Jacuzzi. Perhaps by now it has cooled off, but if not, remember that I always loved you.