Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Mixed Feelings

The Husband and I are watching the local news, TG3-Campania, as I type this post. They are reporting on a camorra hit that occurred in Naples today, a shoot-em-up in broad daylight at a gas station in the center. No innocent bystanders were hit, but they could have been.

Right before I sat down to blog and watch the news, I was standing on our terrace gazing at the view: Capri, the Gulf of Naples, Mergellina, building on top of building, headlights, brake lights, a cloud bank, an incoming airplane. It is mercifully cool out, chilly enough for long sleeves, and as I leaned on the railing, breathing in the sea air, I felt a tinge of regret that we will be leaving this place.

Our 85-year-old landlady and The Husband do not get along. According to Salvatore, our Jehovah's Witness, ballroom dancing door man, no one gets along with la signora Ciliberti. She is a widow with one son, Bruno, for whom she has only unveiled disdain. She looks like she's just bit into a rotten clam when she mentions his name. I have only met Bruno once. I let him into the apartment to go through some things in the storage space that sits on the far end of the terrace, the one with the view of Castel Sant'Elmo. As he was rummaging he said, "She has got to go through this stuff." I offered, "She is waiting for you..." and before I finished he said, "To die?"

Now this only makes sense in Italian. I said, "Lei sta aspettando..." and Bruno understood that "Lei" to mean "You," Lei with a capital L being the formal form of you in Italian. So Bruno heard, "You are waiting for..." and he evidently thought I was going to say, "You are waiting for her to die before you will throw her stuff out."

I was using the "lei," lower case L, as in "she" and wanted to say, "She is waiting for you to go through the stuff." I should have said, "La signora sta aspettando che lo fa Lei." That would have been clear, though potentially in need of the subjunctive, but why mince grammar.

When The Husband went to pay the rent, the landlady said she wanted us out by next September. The Husband and I both hope to be living outside of Naples, far outside, before then, so the deadline is not a problem. But I have to admit to having felt a pang of pre-emptive nostalgia for this place. I have been lamenting Naples ever since I got here and never more than in the last few weeks when it has been over 100 degrees and devoid of people, hot and lonely. I get anxious in the extreme heat and act like a 2-year-old. I have been so negative about Naples.

Until today. The cool air and the return of the students and working people, a violin player in front of Santa Chiara, sitting with his amplifier across the street from where two very short stout women, one in a baker's uniform -- white dress, white hat, red and white apron -- stood chatting, a couple of encounters with people I know in the center, the "how was your vacation?" variety conversation, with the woman who works at the Gay Odin chocolate and ice cream shop on Spaccanapoli, with one of the hot computer geek twins, either Luigi or Salvatore, I am never sure which, with Gianni the Salumiere and his Sri Lankan helper, Joseph...all of this made me fall in love with Naples again, to walk with a spring in my step. And I only called one guy in a car a dick and two kids on a motorino assholes. That's nothing!

My dear dear friend N. was here for a few days and it was so lovely I could just collapse thinking about how much I wish we lived near each other. She had just come from Israel and when I asked her how she felt walking around Naples, negotiating the traffic and bumpy streets with La Bimba and me, she said it was way less chaotic than Tel Aviv. So now we have to go to Israel and then come back and see Naples with mellow goggles on.

I don't think there is another place in the Western world that will inspire me to think and write and marvel like Naples does. But that is not enough of a reason to stick around. We are not leaving tomorrow, but someday soon and I will mourn.


Y B Normal? said...

Subjunctive? Nobody uses it in Italy. At least you know when to use it. They don't even know what it is in the States.

Sorry you have to leave Napoli. Wherever you move to, please keep up the blog. I love it!

A fan in Seattle..

Italiana Americana said...

aw naples ! it's so particular. I love in the rain, in the cold..and in the heat! It's unique and lovely! stattabuona!

Anonymous said...

It's funny that you are having your pre-emptive mourning now--I usually find I get nostalgic about a year after I've left a place. So I guess that means I'm feeling a bit of nostalgia for Essen? Maybe not, though I do miss the dancing there.
We too are having cool weather and it feels as though autumn is coming.
love Gayle