boats against the current

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.'


Matthew Spade said...

that is really sad, you guys can only hope so makes a recovery and lives out the rest of her life. and hopefully meet one day.

what's that man doing in the photo, he looks as if he's heaving a dog up a hill

Lotte said...

So sorry to hear this. Life is so strange and shocking sometimes; I hope she pulls through.

(Beautiful photos!)

LeahB said...

Absolutely breathtaking photos.

Will add Anna and her family to my prayers tonight.

daisychain said...

Breathtaking photos Jill,

and sending prayers for Anna


San said...

Great pictures, post and thoughts.

Best of luck to Anna.

Have a great day, Jill.

jill said...

Thank you. Each of the five of you who have commented are all people who - even if we haven't actually met - I have come to feel true respect and admiration for. It's quite in character that you would each respond in this wonderful way.

It's funny.. I've been so out of the 'fashion bloggers' loop for so long, that when I post I often feel that no one is reading this. I don't look at my 'numbers' - as one of my bitchy ambitious ex blogger friends taunted me a year ago, about how her numbers were bigger than my numbers (no names, but a hint: there's a cube in her blog name) and I've truly come to feel that I'm sometimes a tree falling in a forest. Which gives me the freedom to post what I want, and speak my truth.

And it is truly heartening to get these comments. To know that, despite the experiences I had that caused me to effectively shut down my blog as a fashion blog - to make the bullies go away - that nonetheless, HERE I AM. And here you are. And that is wonderful.

Sending you much love, and gratitude - on behalf of a woman that none of us know, in prayer that she will survive.

Words have such power: to harm, but also to heal.

O D Y S S E Y said...

How sad!
"Not as disappointed as the woman in a coma", indeed.
Italy will be there when you and your friend are able to go. Remind me to tell you about my dear Tortola friend J's and my cancelled trip to Puerto Rico. (We did eventually go. And so will you, to Italy.)
Sending much love. Oh! and I've emailed you. :)

LeahB said...

Jill! I'm so happy to have found your site a few years back. You, Roz, and Fashionistable are the only bloggers who have held my interest for so long. I really enjoy how you ladies add not just pretty things to your sites but also sweet thoughts/ponderings about life in general. This has always been my idea of what a blog should be like... sort of a modern-day diary if you will, filled with honesty and introspection as well as things I, a reader, might learn from. There is just SO MUCH navel gazing out there these days amidst all the different forms of social media that it has been a relief to find something of more substance in this nutso world.

Anyways, I'm sorry I have yet to put a face to my name. I assure you that I'm a normal 38-year-old woman (for the most part!) and not some creeptastic guy following your blog from a dank basement somewhere (Yikes, that's a gross thought, sorry!)

So, please don't stop writing, even if the mood only hits you now and then, because YES, we ARE out there reading!

jill said...

Aw, LeahB, THANK YOU. This just popped in while I was preparing for ANOTHER post! (Yes, I'm inspired now to post some more - since I'm not on holiday, after all) - while my husband watches Wimbledon on TV and can't understand why he keeps calling me in and I keep saying 'just a minute'.

I can't reply to you - I don't have a link - but I want you to know how much this means to me. Having spent a few years that felt like a lifetime actively spending so much time - not just online time, but real, actual time - time that I can never get back - with these time-wasters, these navel-gazers as you so aptly call them - narcissistic, competitive, ultimately not remotely nice women, emotionally disabled and yet, weirdly, skilled enough at social media to make strangers think they're humble, modest human beings.. I don't care about numbers, or tons of comments - I always understood the game of leaving comments to draw people to one's blog - but YOU, dear readers - the ones who have commented here, and the ones who are out there, I know, but aren't speaking - I am truly touched, and grateful.

As the Queen said: it is humbling. Not ego-boosting, but HUMBLING.

And dear Stephanie - I will reply and when we talk I want to hear about your cancelled trip story.

No word yet on Anna... still holding vigil, and grateful for your thoughts and prayers.

parfums said...

wow , so beautiful place and lovely pics. love it
parfum pas cher

Lotte said...

I agree with everything LeahB said! You just keep on keepin' on, Jill. Your obvious heart is much better to see than any amount of so-called internet fame.

Veshoevius said...

Jill - so beautifully put and illustrated with the wonder of these rock formations - thoughts go out to Anna and hope she recovers quickly.

Alexandra said...

Jill, I just wanted to add add my voice to those of the wonderful individuals above and offer my thoughts and prayers for Valeria and Anna. I can imagine you must be extremely worried for both so I hope you know that you have people like me reading and supporting you from a distance. Weirdly it seems as if we all know each other well even though we're scattered around the country communicating virtually. But to me it doesn't feel like that.

Reading Leah's comment above I share her sentiment that your blog, Roz's and Dvora's are blogs I always read, no matter whether I'm in a blogging state of mind or not. There are other people too, but you and Roz in particular are people who are admirable honest and frank with your opinions and whose lives seem real and relatable as oppose to those whose lives seem a whirlwind of fashion pr and networking. I've come to the point where I want my blog to be a showcase of my writing and photography - a portfolio for the future. I've realised that although I adore clothes and outfits I'm never going to be a style blogger and it's not worth me hassling friends and family to shoot my outfits for the sake of comments, because comments don't read anything if they're just a "thanks for the comment" or "great blog" comment. I'd rather have very few, meaningful comments or even none at all than meaningless ones. It is an odd thing, blogging. I don't think I'll ever quite understand it.

Hope you are well + happy Jill. Would love to hear if there have been any developments with the novel you wrote - I was so inspired to hear you'd written a book (even though you mentioned it ages ago). Anyway, it's late and I have my grade 7 singing exam tomorrow so I need to be in good voice!

Alexandra xx

The Foolish Aesthete said...

Oh Jill, my heart goes out to the woman in a coma as well as the people who love her. When I popped in to look at your post and the beautiful cave, I had no hint of the tragedy beyond.

The last few weeks, nearly everyone I am close to has had a brush with deep sorrow, and so transitively, have I. These brushes are so unexpected and random, as you say. (My husband says it's Venus in retrograde, and I think he was only half joking.)

I was just telling another friend, as I get older, I realize that when we feel so intensely (whether joy or extreme sorrow), that is actually when we are most ALIVE. Everything in between is mere existence. It's the piercing, bittersweet moments that really count, and make up the string of experiences we call "our life". Sorry, I've been waxing philosophical of late. Even our trip to LA brought on a lot of soul searching with family.

On to the island you were looking for, now that you say Tiberius used it, I have a vague recollection of it from "I Claudius" (am I on the right track here?). I hope you and your friend land on the island sometime, and not in a state of banishment!

J xxxx

mtg said...

Hi Jill,
gorgeous photos. How sad about your friend's friend. Hope she comes out of coma soon... Keep us updated.. I've never been to Italy but it would be the first country I'd visit if I could travel anywhere.