In the bus we pass characters: the woman with the 60’s cat-eye sunglasses and piled-on bleached hair, sitting at the same bus stop every day with her sunbathing Jack Russel Terrier whose name is probably Audrey; the old men with the beautifully tan and leathery faces, whose wrinkles remember both smiles and tears as their eyes squint into the sun; the polizia municipale, in their buckles and berets, standing together, chatting and smoking, their presence alone somehow keeping the traffic between the lines. Today is a beautiful day with beautiful people.
When I arrive at the Stazione, the lab director says we’re going to buy octopuses for the lab. Three of us go to the fish market in Mergellina, and it is an experience: pans of flounder, seahorses, and fish I cannot name, along with the famous polpi are presented together, advertised by their toothless, shirtless captors with scars that probably have long, dramatic stories. We arrive back to the dim tank room, examine our specimens, and introduce them to their tanks. We start chatting and laughing, and I tell stories from the spring, describing differences between the North and the South. And I feel my heart start to sink.
I’m remembering when I first arrived to Naples (see post 1), my ears ringing and my lungs tight, missing my Padovani. When I left, it was less of a pain of not being together, but more of a fear that there won’t be a next time. Now, the reality of my departure date is developing like a vintage photograph, becoming clearer and clearer until it has no use anymore and gets shoved in a drawer along with the memories behind it. That is my fear.
With Isabella gone, I’m now missing Boston more and more. I’m torn between excitement for home and an ache for my friends here, both Northern and Southern. The Atlantic never seemed so big, bridging memories and friendships across continents, made more difficult by time difference and time apart. I’m reflecting on my experience here, and I’m even beginning to miss Naples, with it’s storybook scenery, it’s beautiful people with their beautiful faces. I knew Italy would be incredible, and it has been, but I did not imagine how much it would hurt to leave.
But something I have learned from Naples is resilience. I have always been one to move forward, to plan, to predict the future. But it cannot always be done. Here, you stick with what you’ve got and you wear a smile. If your scooter seat is ripped and the metal is peeling off, you get the duct tape from your brother-in-law Salvatore and you stitch it up. Why be sad with a broken scooter when you can smile and ride it? So straighten your back and fix your bike, because Capri is beautiful today, the sun is bright, and so are you.