June 3, 2018 Breathe Free Press

SPERLONGA WRITERS RETREAT JOURNAL – DAY TWO

The second day I seemed to adjust to my present time zone. I woke early went down for breakfast. I do not mind being alone among the families. I do miss the cover of being a couple even a contentious one. I have already proven my sovereignty to travel alone – to move about without the crutch of a partner or friend to hide the dreaded human condition contained within separate bodies. The more one rejects solitude the heavy the burden of group logic. It is not that I am lonely it is that I am without purpose. I have nowhere to go, nowhere to be, the only schedule is the Italian timetable for restaurants. breakfast eight to ten – lunch one to two-thirty – dinner seven-thirty to, I am not sure since I have not been hungry at dinnertime after lunch of marinated anchovies and spaghetti with clams. I had a miniature baba pastry for dinner around ten. The restaurants were still busy Saturday night on the national holiday of Italian Independence.

I do want to go home, back to my cats and apartment and partner although we rarely spend weekends together. I like this that is different from what he wants. He is content with the same while I am chronically restless in my discontent. There is no getting around my awkward outsiderness.

I cannot slip on the adaptable chameleon skin. As in Rome when I lived there for a couple of years and visited alone for nine days I submit to loneliness. Shades of my short influential life in Rome shadow Sperlonga’s beauty. My eye can find nothing wanting in its surroundings. The sea is blue with rippling waves that catch the moonlight in clear crests. Old town on the mountaintop, I have not yet made the climb to visit, is a perfect backdrop for darting swallows. The semi-tropical shrubs with thick succulent leaves – the palm trees and flowering bougainvillea and yellow blossom vines growing on the old fortress walls and between terraced pines and trees too far off to identify. The large terrace outside my ample room with a view of the piazza on one side and the beach on the other. This town gives no cause whatsoever for sadness.

The one thing causing me distress is the task I set for myself, to complete the manuscript. My pen mimics a graceful swallow flying across the page, but that damn thorn punctures holes in my engagement. It clams up like a poisonous mollusk lurking in strands of al dente spaghetti mingling with healthy open vongole offering tiny plump pockets of perfectly cooked flesh.

The story is alive, writing itself in my mind until I try to pin it down to itself then it shrinks from commitment. It runs away like a bare bottom toddler resisting a diaper. Is it trying to tell me it’s done, it was great fun, but now it’s time to move on. That would seem to be the message since no such lethargy has stopped me from writing about writing the manuscript to where I can send it out to find its fortune. Maybe its impatient with being held back.

Now I am happy and content. I do not even feel my usual Sunday evening blues. The perfume of the privet hedges cleanses my nostalgia. I would gladly sit in this spot on this chaise until I must go back into the room to charge my MacBook at the only outlet over the a/c unit. All is fine as long as my fingers press out new thoughts. But, running bottomless eventually leaves a mess for someone more responsible to clean up usually at great expense.

 

I sounded like a boastful American when Laura explained the Festa della Repubblica I replied July 4th is bigger. Instead, I compared the large groups of kids to Spring Break. After I woke from my stupor, I realized Italian kids and adults did not drink themselves boisterous. They had wine with their meal – maybe followed with a digestivo. No one walked around with bottles of open beer, drinking shots until they fell into the sea or vomited excess. Not one kid, not one adult celebrating Italy’s post World War II Republic abused the holiday as the reason to get drunk. The most drama I witnessed was between two young women who began lunch holding hands that later appeared by the facial expression of the one facing me, devolved into a spat. No one yelled. The kids roamed about pleasantly interacting, not shouting as excessive drinking impaired their hearing.

Americans need to get over their “exceptionalism” – check their credentials at the door with the gatekeepers – venture out into the world with respect for those that share the planet. I need to learn how to fa niente – let go and live in the moment free of imposed markers. Is this my personal deluded American exceptionalism to strive, to want, to never be content?

About the Author

Breathe Free Press Breathe Free Press is a literary magazine of resistance and awareness dedicated to essayism as art. The essay as a space for observation funneled through social awareness in narratives that subvert genre constraints.