When in Rome, #Capri
I called a taxi to come pick me up. Everyone around the pool was begging me to stay one more night, my heart told me that I should; I knew what I was going back to was only going to hurt me. I’ve heard the saying “All roads lead to Rome” but seriously? How many times was I going to go back to be shattered into a million pieces? Each day my lover found a new way to disappoint me, to drive the knife deeper into my heart. This for a fact was to happen if I went back on the last ferry of the day, but something urged me to go. I was in a hurry to go to someone who wasn’t waiting for me… I was in a hurry to rush back and see if perhaps this time he would be different.
The sun was high in the sky, water in the pool bright blue, cold, lapping at the edges making a gentle sound, calming, as we basked in our lounge chairs our arms and legs lazily dangling over the edges soaking up the good energies of friendship, sunshine and cold drinks in the afternoon heat of siesta. A swish of a magazine page flips, the creak of the chairs as we flipped from our tummies to our backs, the sound of an unknown new arrival on the deck splashing into the water. This Mediterranean life was a part of me now. My skin had turned a dark golden brown, a color I never had before during a hot American summer. This radiant sun kissed my skin, my heart and my soul.
It was actually he that had suggested that I travel to Capri, as it shouldn’t be missed even if I were to go alone. My time in Rome was winding down to final weeks so I assumed it was best to take advantage of all there was to see and do.
I had learned to navigate my own way around easily, I was not afraid of traveling alone, I am a New Yorker after all. In a sort of anarchic rebellion and excitement, as if he had dared me to go to one of the most romantic spots in the world alone and survive, I threw a few essentials in my backpack and took off early the next morning. I knew I was taking the A metro to Termini, to Naples, to the port, to the ferry to Capri. Flying by the seat of my pants I grabbed a coffee to go at McDonalds, a very American thing to do, and hurried off to escape the torment of sharing the Eternal City with a man who no longer loved me. My lack of making a proper plan caught up with me around the time I arrived in Napoli and was trying to determine which bus would drop me at the seaport. Roaming around the bus stops looking very confused I knew that I was pushing my luck, and the Blonde American tourista was becoming very vulnerable to something that could go wrong. I kept my bags hugged close to me just in case. In Italy I discovered the further south I was going to the less English was going to get me by. My mind drifted back to my attempt at learning Italian at a class, when my teacher told me “Don’t worry, you are very beautiful and charming, wherever you go, people will speak English to you” I guess that was her way of letting me down easy when I hopelessly stumbled through my verb conjugations. In a way though she was right, people do genuinely want to connect and language is seldom a barrier when efforts are made. After signing my way through broken conversation with a concerned Nona she pointed me to the right bus number. When I boarded the bus to my great relief, a lovely English understanding woman was driving. I sat in the seat right behind her, as per her direction and when the seaport stop arrived she pointed at me. I jumped off, grateful for the women who guided me safely. I made my way through the shipyard as Italian sailors, called out to me, I tucked my head, smiling at the attention but realizing it was the wrong kind of attention I hurried along, my eyes peeled for the sight of the boat I needed to be on. I arrived at the ferry just as it was about to leave and smoothly glided on without even buying a ticket. Appreciating my good fortune again, I climbed to the top deck so I could sun myself as I traveled to Capri.
At last I had arrived, finally a moment of stillness and reflection. I was full of conflicting emotions of happiness and sadness as the pain inside of me, of my bleeding heart rose to the surface… I was traveling to paradise completely and utterly alone. My lover had not chosen me. In an act of almost joy in punishing myself, I took interest in photographing a couple, as they had their own experience aboard the ferry. I clicked my shutter to capture them kissing while the breeze blew their hair, and the backdrop nothing but pure blue sea on the horizon. I understood how alone I was and somehow that too comforted me.
Two women behind me tapped my shoulder and asked if I could take a photo of them, which I did. They saved me from myself, and forgetting my despair, I began to converse with them, and my mood was lifting significantly. They mentioned how cute the bnb was online that they had booked, and they hoped it would really be great. It occurred to me I had also decided to wing it with my lodging for the night, so in a swift move of genius I asked my two new friends if I could share their taxi to their Bed and Breakfast. They were totally cool about it and I felt relieved that yet again my lucky star was guiding me.
Here at this cozy little Villa nestled at the top of AnaCapri I was truly in paradise. A place so unique, a part of the world I had to see to believe, and I was filled with immense gratitude that I had the means to provide myself with the experience. In my respect for the goodness of the Universe I had attracted like souls, in less than 24 hours I had made friends. We had shared a fabulous yet short time dinning together in Capri sharing bottles of wine, and hiking down to the sea to explore the Grotto Azurro, riding into the magical cave with a entrance so tiny we had to lay down flat inside of our boat to clear the opening.
They pleaded with me “Just stay one more night with us, you can sleep in our room.” I looked around the pool; nervously, I knew I was about to make the wrong decision, but yet somehow I wanted to make it. “No, I really must return to Rome, I know he is expecting me this evening.” Did I believe that or did I want them to believe that? Saying it wasn’t going to make it true, because as sure as that fucking golden sun was shining in the sky, he was not and would not be waiting for me. Fooling myself only I am sure, as my new 24 hour friends were too polite to mention the obvious, I had been abandoned by this man and I was clearly on the run alone.
From the pool deck I could see my taxi had arrived; all the cabs here were convertibles, which for some reason made me giddy like a child who is excited to experience something out of the ordinary routine. As the driver waited I shimmied into shorts and tee and slung my backpack over my shoulders. My friends got up from their loungers and we exchanged meaningful hugs and goodbyes and as I left them I knew that the camaraderie we had shared was real, but it wasn’t enough, I was going to run again. I was running from them, from their warm hearts and good times.
As my taxi convertible literally soared down the mountain towards the harbor, the driver blasting his best mix of pop music from the stereo, Adele was blaring a sad yet triumphant ballad in my ears. My hair was flailing in the wind every which way as the beautiful Amalfi scenery sped quickly past my eyes with each twist of the winding severely narrow road… My heart swelled up with a melancholy and joy at the same time. I was overcome with an urge; my wings wanted to fly even further, flapping in the wind with my hair, even away from him…I could get a one-way flight out… I did a quick tally in my head of how much money I had left, where might I run to and how in the hell I was going to tell my mother that I was deeper and deeper escaped into the great wide world.
Once aboard the ferry I was comforted by the sound of the huge motors propelling us across the sea, reminded of my childhood times in my father’s ski boat, a Nautique if that means anything to you, how I used to curl on the cover of the outboard motor soothed by the low purrs and rumbles of the engine, the feel of sun and wind… my mother nearby to ensure my safety but letting me have my moment… my father behind the wheel one of my most treasured memories…. I stood at the back, inhaled the gas fumes but it was no bother as I was meditively transfixed on the wake, the churned frothy white suds, and for a second I was a little girl again and I could dream as we cruised back to real life from that magical island as I watched it fade into just a tiny speck. Maybe it was the sound of the motors luring me into a trance, or maybe the irrational thought that he missed me, whatever it was my urges for flight settled and I felt a comfort, a comfort in going back to him, back to my poisonous love. I had to get hurt some more.