The time was July and some english girl was bored. University, it must be said, has a lot to be said for it, but also, its limitations, and it was these limitations which niggled away at her now. After three ardous years packed full of experience and tremendous musical sounds, she felt a hole inside her.
Yes, a hole.
Why? Why so empty after such a positive time? She had had a lot of joy impressed many in her recitals. She even had the most fantastic young man standing by her.
So, what was the problem?
This she didn’t know. And so the unusually hot english summer was spent, mostly, lying in a green spot soaking up the sun, hiding behind shades. At first she would think “But what will I do? How can I satisfy myself?” but as the days rolled on and the english sun put on its mediterranean guise, and bronzed her, she became aware that she was succumbing to the wonderfulness of “simply not thinking”.
“I won’t think” she would say.
That’s when things started to go wrong.
Unfortunately she became quite content with this new “nothing” attitude and people began to notice.
Her parents tired of the continuous lack of anything and became increasingly frustrated, her friends laughed along. Some even joined her in that warm and hypnotic green spot in order to experience what it was she ranted and raved about, but few smelt too an ugly smell, that of dissatisfaction.
As for the young man, well, perhaps this was the most serious trouble of all, because, after eventually tiring of the repetitive “dunno” answers to his future-oriented questions he said to her:
“I may give up on you”
She returned to the green spot, though, because people don’t say things like that to her there, and anyway, it was easier to not think.
And because this attitude was adopted as some new kind of religion, she didn’t think when it came to the advances of an attractive and seemingly warm boss at work.
The young man warned her.
She didn’t listen.
And so she became involved with this boss at work and, for a week or two, all she felt was bliss.
She thought that the sun from her green spot was now truly within her, obviously she understood the religion because she felt like she was shining even when indoors and during all this, the hole inside her she believed to be filled.
Sadly all this was a misconception a real one at that because life isn’t perfect
It just isn’t that simple.
Gradually, slowly, the sun began to feel less hot; it passed now beneath a layer of cloud until, sometimes, it wouldn’t come at all.
For a while she understood this to be a problem within herself
(obviously she hadn’t quite grasped the religion fully) and so she continued to go to the green spot.
“But one day it rained.
One day the boss at work didn’t say Hello.
One day she got home and the young man didn’t look up from the TV, didn’t say a word, was too tired, yes, just too damn tired of the whole pointless thing.
“I’ve got to get away” she said
The next day she booked a flight to Italy.”
1.A.M. Bologna Airport
The new boss had arranged to meet her. He was late (“and not at all like the last one” she thought.)
As they drove to his home together she saw prostitutes in the dark road and the tobacco burning in the pipe he smoked was making her feel sick. When he announced that, actually, he had as much of a clue as she did about where they were, they were lost. She felt, maybe for the first time in months scared.
That night after eventually finding the “home” she lay in a bunkbed in a stale room, with bars on the windows.
“This isn’t what I expected” she thought. And didn’t sleep.
The next few days passed very slowly, and perhaps she was in a shock because she didn’t talk much, didn’t see much, didn’t laught at all.
And also she started thinking again.
She moved out of the new boss’s horrible cell and into a flat in the center of the town with another english girl.
She started teaching English and actually began to feel vaguely useful again.
But still there was a hole.
This time, however, she knew what it was. It was called lack of love and it stemmed from her thoughts of the warm young man at home, the one who had always stood by her, yet whom she had purposefully left behind.
So she wrote and told him “No, forgive me, I was wrong in that green spot in the sun, how I love you:”
After she received a reply which read: “Please don’t conctact me again”. She was very hill.
Some people say that life has a way of balancing itself: one “up” for one “down”. Well, with this in mind she believed that things were rather out of her control.
Best to try to forget.
Best to ignore the rain, the cold foreign faces.
Best to just get on with it.
Although she now faced many problems. Work being the main one, things actually appeared to be falling into place too. And in fact she was lucky enough to chance upon some very beautiful things.
She found a market where people could go to smoke and play drums, all together, on saturday afternoons.
She tasted some exceptional wines, which reminded her of childhood summer of fruit and heat. She saw the snow on the Dolomites in winter, and watched how white and pure it was. It made her wonder why some things seem just like that.
All in all, something was changing, her mind was feeling like a clock again, ticking away.
From the sheer amount of people she was coming into conctact with she was learning so, so much, and this resulted in a wave of positive energy.
It was probably this which gave her the strenght she needed to persist in reaching towards the young man from home.
Beacuse he was quite far away from her now, he had had to travel a good half way round the world to attempt healing some fairly deep wounds.
Well after a lot of letters, a lot of words, prayers, tears, hopes, sighs, questions, thoughts, and probably a bit of luck too, after much time of all of this, and more a kind of re-established conctact was made.
As with evolution it grew, it swelled, until, yes, this is stupid, we have to meet, I can’t stand it any more.
And so she took a few days to return back to England, to meet him on a cold and windy spring afternoon at a point by the Thames they used to love.
They found they still loved it.
The time is May and the same girl sits at a table in a small room in a small flat somewhere in Italy. As she writes, a street musician passes beneath her window which makes her smile. A light wind is blowing gently at a candle, the light of which she is working by.
Perhaps it is a little daring to say she is completely content; let’s just be satisfied in knowing that she feels a little better, a little more secure and less lost within herself than last summer.
She is smoking a cigarette and thinking about how, in a month’s time, she’ll take a train along Italy’s great stretch, all the way back to
England, and what sort of a shock she’ll feel, what sort of re-adjustment will be necessary for her to undertake. She wonders what the future has in store, and “do I even feel English any more?” she says out loud.
While once, this sort of thought may have kept her up at night, made her frown pace up and down a little, or otherwise simply ignore, shut off and pretend, now she just sighs – once – quite a contented sound.
As she stares at the candle’s flame which lights up eyes that have seen quite a lot, actually, but they’re still really quite bright, she doesn’t focus on it, on anything. No. Now all she can see is her young man, she’s trying to remember what it feels like to touch him again… she can almost imagine…
Look, she’s starting to shake, she loves him so much.
Suddenly she’s aware of how many millions of miles away from this feeling she was last July, last june. Well, maybe forever up until now. She’s searching for a reason, probably there’s a name for it, but she doesn’t mind that to her, it’s just Italian Therapy.