I was meant to be in Italy right now.
The plan was that I was to fly to Rome on Sunday and have a mostly girls' holiday with my close Italian friends, but on Saturday my dear, dear friend called to say she had been in the hospital until 5:00 a.m. with another close friend - a woman I never met - who is in a coma and who might not survive.
So I am here. In London, with my husband and cat.
There are worse places to be.
Life is that random: I am holding a kind of vigil, for a woman I have never met, named Anna. My mother's mother's name. And while I don't know what went wrong - why a healthy, relatively young woman should suddenly faint and go into a coma, I do believe that miracles can happen. That we can WILL miracles to happen.
I took these photos with the same friends I would have seen, on and around Ponza, which is often called something that translates loosely to 'the Hamptons for the Romans.' (That's some of them, actually, in the top boat). Valeria, my friend, had heard that it was getting too touristy, and that the island she chose, Ventotene, also one of the Pontine islands, was even more remote, more beautiful. I tried looking at it on Google Map, but it was a blur. It didn't even rate a satellite photo. All I know from Wikipedia is that it was formed from an ancient volcano, and that the emperor Augustus banished his daughter Julia the Elder there in 2 BC, as reaction to her 'excessive adultery' (I wonder how much is considered excess).
Apparently it was a great place for emperors to send slutty women, because Tiberius also banished his grandniece Agrippina the Edler there 31 years later, in 29 AD. And another Julia, Julia Livilla, was exiled there twice.. and on and on. As my friend said, 'it will be an adventure.' And now we'll have to wait - perhaps until September. I called my mother, who said 'Aren't you meant to be in Italy?' and I told her what happened and how disappointed my friend and I were and she listened and said 'But surely not as disappointed as the woman in the coma.'
To give you an idea of the scale of these rocks, do you see this tiny dot above? It is one man.
And so I dedicate this post to Anna: my close friend Valeria's dear friend. I don't know what kind of storm you are in right now, but I pray you awake, here on Earth.
And I borrow from F. Scott Fitzgerald, his last sentence in The Great Gatsby:
'So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.'