So I think as of breakfast this morning, I have abandoned my search for truth and beauty and decided to go in for pure pleasure. Ever since coming here, albeit for a joyous and festive occasion, I have tried to practice moderation, except for prosciutto which has wormed its way into my soul, I hope without the accompanying trichinosis. When I gave up meat last year, living in Venice, there was still this hunger for prosciutto and as it has been everywhere here in Montecatini, I have buckled under the weight of my own discipline, and said Fuck it. Though I did not partake of the suckling pig, the star of the beach celebration of Marco’s wedding, I prosciuttoed out, and decided, as I took my swim this morning, and saw from my arms I would never grow young again, that I might as well live out my days enjoying them. So it was I added prosecco to my pink grapefruit juice(for health) and gave up my plan to write immortal prose whilst(a little touch of Keats there) I was here in Montecatini, and instead just, as I wrote last year in Venice, albeit still unbought by a publisher, Live the Day.
All the same I had a bowlful of ripe cut tomatoes for my lycopene, a trick I learned from my gifted and crazy friend Emily, who always looks bright-eyed and eats pomidori fresco at the Cipriani where I can never go again because Natale is gone, but I can carry her inherent diet wisdom with me and eat the tomatoes. Beside them, though, I had a touch of the smoked salmon(a fat touch, actually) and the end of the brown bread with seeds and a splatter of scrambled egg. There were very thin women at the next table eating breakfast cakes and putting rolls in their purses so I must not think of the inequities of life, but only how lucky I am to not explode. One of them had Brigitte Bardot’s old upper lip, and a ghastly stripe of white above it that trumpeted collagen recently injected, or maybe it’s Restalyn. It has been a long time since I worried about little wrinkles as my arms started to fall off. I can remember when I returned from the south of France in my late what I still regarded as my youth, and Arnie Klein, the famous dermatologist and alleged possible father of Michael Jackson’s baby but certainly the one who lightened Michael’s skin, including that on his member when the little boy’s parents sued, said of my upper lip “I can fix that,” and did, for a while anyway.
But like literary immortality, smooth skin is never to be mine, and I am resigned to it, especially seeing the ghastly pallor where would more normally, since this is Italy, be a mustache on a woman.
As for the literary life, as Gay Talese that major phony would title it, I have also decided to set it aside, my efforts on the book I am engaged in writing now having been dampened by my favorite reader’s (there’s only one) tepid reaction to the latest chapter, the writing of which required more than focus, as everyone else here has been devoted to having a good time. George, my beloved friend from my true youth (Rome, in the late 50s) had to cancel our proposed lunch in Florence, because as noted his wife is failing and their car did, too, so I had to drink of his wisdom over the phone, which crackles the line. The big question I had to ask him, already indicated in these posts, was how to let go of what you consider your art, since I suffer daily if I don’t write something, a poem, a report to you, a book. Helmut, the Nazi therapist I had in Berkeley right after Don died and I was truly insane, desperate for a man because I hadn’t realized how partnered I was until he was with me no more, my deep strain of masochism pulled me back to Helmut even after I left San Francisco, and I called him and said I wanted to learn to love myself unconditionally and not just because I produce something, and Helmut said “Too late.”
Georgie, though, having set aside his paints to tender to Anne, said the mistake we make is thinking we have to do all our work and then we will be happy, when it should be the reverse. We should be happy first. Easy for him to say. There is, he tells me, no Italian word for ‘workaholic’, but he has seen too many of them, even in Tuscany, hard to believe, and then they die. Well the really bad news is we are all going to die anyway, which they don’t tell you at the get-go, because who could go jaunting merrily on that road thinking about how it would end. He also told me once there was no word in Italian for ‘loneliness.’ There is only ‘solitudine’ which means solitude, and that for them is enough because Italians never leave each other alone so they are never lonely.
I could see that last night at the Maccionis, where Mama Egi made dinner at her really warm home for all the veterans of the wedding, family and friends, still here. Included among the guests were the parents of the woman youngest son Mauro had married who recently dumped him, so I guess there is no Italian word for grudge, either. There were many varieties of meat, filets, chicken, rabbit(again) and sausage, but I stayed with my obsession and ate only the prosciutto and salad and asked her for a tomato from a gleaming bowl of them that was on the island stove. She took it and rakishly polished it on the back of her dress where her butt was, shooting me a mischievous glance, so I could see the fun-loving, darling young girl she must have been, before she was everybody’s Mama, including Sirio’s. The table was long and festive, all the men on the other side so they could watch the World Cup and shout ‘Vai, Vai!’ to the Italians who did not vai quite enough, the excuse being that the field was so wet and the ball was slippery. But I wished I had had a camera so I could fix a memory of all those beautiful dark eyes, including the twins’, the eleven year olds who said Justin Bieber is gay, up and over our heads, fixed on the screen.
This is an exceptionally long report—the wedding itself, for those of you who wish to know details, might or might not be in the Observer this week, or if not, I’ll send you the piece if you ask. But the e-mail here is difficult and I have to log in to write it by putting in a code and I didn’t want to waste my time that I had to buy by writing this so used my Word, which I am as good as. Oh, if only we didn’t judge ourselves. It’s easier not to when you have prosecco for breakfast.