It will take 4 minutes to listen to Sean Connery read C.P. Cavafy’s “ITHACA.” Aside from being the place Odysseus left, Ithaca is also where he returned, utterly changed. Some have said that “Ithaca” is about the journey. So here we go —
No photos of yesterday’s odyssey from San Francisco to Athens, but the memory of some moments worth savoring, all of them involving the latest in travel gear for those long hauls through Trump-size international airports. A WHEELCHAIR. Really, it’s amazing what you can take in from that perch.
There was the family of young and old women in gold and red saris in San Francisco – headed home for a visit. Or a funeral, as I think.
By Rome, the sense of being shepherded or rather, sherpa-ed, came more easily. I sat back in my chair and saw shops I’d never really attended to back in the day when I was always focused on dragging myself and my carry-on to the gate in time: the scents of seafood from a seafood restaurant (L’Osteria Dell’Orologio, I think), could make you change your mind about leaving Rome. And the shops! Armani (jeans only), Boggi Milano, Bulgari, Vasari (“ottico” – eyeglass frames only, I think)…
At JFK, I had befriended the woman sitting in a wheelchair next to mine, who explained she was traveling “to be home for 6 or 7 months.” By the time we arrived in Rome, I understood her English and she understood my very broken Italian. But she wasn’t stopping in Italy; I mean I thought she understood my Italian, until we had been wheeled into the outdoor lift, called an “elevator-to-plane,” which was our method of boarding the plane to Athens – no stairs for us! She explained that she had “much family near Athens,” and I suddenly realized she wasn’t Italian at all, wasn’t going to visit Greece — this woman was going home to Greece!
That also explained why, after our Italian lunch courtesy of Alitalia, she slipped her hand delicately into a ziplok snack bag and took out a piece of Greek lemon shortbread she’d made the night before at her home in Connecticut: “Lemon. Like Greece. You like.” I loved that she wasn’t posing a question. My mouth full, I wiped crumbs from my chin and nodded an enthusiastic endorsement as we got into our chairs and were pushed – before everybody else – towards the airport exit.
It really is a white city, isn’t it?
Thanksgiving evening in the garden, Hotel Brazil
Pleased to say that not even Japan’s latest production line could break the peace —