Travel as Metaphor

The blog of novelist Sue Swift.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Tuesday 20 Sept...another stunning day in Matera...morning at the provincial library working followed by lunch, then the first day of the WFF RS briefings, these on human trafficking (slavery) and counterterrorism. Both were very interesting, thought-provoking and stimulating to the writer's mind. I don't exactly know how I can use the information yet, but really, one just shoves it into the cranial hard drive and waits until something pops out of the mental stew. Sometimes that can take months or years. It's OK.

Weds, Thurs and Friday much the same...workshops on pathology, the mafia, investigation and so forth.

On Friday morning the 22d I awakened a little depressed. Colin warned me that I'd experience a variety of emotions while away, he states that he started to truly feel the pain of Keith's death. I feel that I am also mourning my past life. I am also feeling a general sense of displacement. I am also tired of living out of one small suitcase, wearing the same clothes. I want to put on my skates and play some hockey. I haven't had decent exercise for weeks even though I am living in a town that is like a giant stone Stairmaster.

The lack of exercise is probably what's getting to me the most. The walking is good and I'm stretching lightly. But it's not enough.

It is also Rose Hashana today and I wonder if that's affecting me, even though I'm not religious. I got up at 6 a.m. and phoned home to talk with my mom and Wendy. My mother is obsessed with the smaller details of her life, as usual, mostly her frustration with Surewest's inability to get the TV in her kitchen to work. She is unimpressed with the fact that I have only Italian language TV.

Wendy is super as always. She always has something smart and insightful to say. She reminded me that the journey IS the destination and to be patient with myself. Routines, she pointed out, do not make us grow. I deliberately created my situation, so enjoy it to the fullest.

And write in my journal.

So I did. Seated in the central square, Piazza Vittorio Veneto, I watched the city awaken. I drank a cappucino in the Café Centrale as dawn brightened the sky. Men wielding bamboo brooms with long straws bound with metal sweep the square. A small dog barks from a balcony overhead. A streetsweeping machine hums and belches diesel, a modern contrast to the old-fashioned brooms. Though a cloudbank lingers in the east, it's another perfect day in Matera.

The streetsweeping machine becomes oppressive, so I wander to a kiosk. I don't find my books but locate another by a friend, Jennifer Skully's Quando il Nemico e l'amante. I feel sure that Skully didn't get to pick this title.

I go down a jagged flight of steps into the Sassi, the Barisano section with which I am not familiar. I can't figure out how to get to the Piazza Sedile, so after a few abortive attempts up winding stone staircases to nowhere, I walk east to the road that rims the Sassi to the east. I will follow it south to Il Vicinato.

I walk along the parapet over a gorge bottomed by a stream. I mean over a lichen encrosted wall, breathe the scent of greenery, see purple flowers clinging to cracks in the stone. Joggers pass. Birds warble morning songs.

Wendy's the best :)

10 a.m.: Had a chat with Bruna and her colleague Michaela in the Viaggo Lionetti office. They, and Liz, will help me find a place and language lessons.

12:15: met Tony, who knows Liz (he says everybody knows Liz). He teaches English for €7 per hour. He says that the Sassi Caveoso is preferable (more light) and that €400 per month is realistic. Are utilities included?

I think I will stay until 15 April. My return to the States is on 1 May from London. I can go home to California, see people, attend a hockey camp and decide where I next want to live. If I am happy in Matera, I can return. If not, then not.


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