Several months ago I was walking down a little vicolo in the old center of Palermo. As I went from one narrow street to another I heard a voice. “We want you back. We need to talk to you.” I thought I was hearing things. And indeed I was. So I made a note to myself and moved on.
As if the little voice thought I hadn’t heard, it kept repeating, over and over, “Come back, we’re not finished. Everyone else has gone. We are so glad we found you. Please won’t you come back?”
100 years ago my grandfather left Sicily. I don’t know why, but it is my belief that he didn’t have to leave. His was a family that was prosperous. All these years has there been a part of him that has been trying to get back home?
I see it with modern day immigrants. The man who cuts my hair or the gent who alters my clothes, both came to America for a better life. And both seem to have little need to go home. Maybe that is the simple answer of my grandfather, he got used to this life.
But that isn’t the plea from these voices, my little muse near the Quadro Canti. I imagine the Prince of Lampedusa had his muse, a sorrowful one, filled with stories of loss and times never to be regained or reconciled.
No, this muse is a little lustrous. Or maybe a little trickier. In any case, one must take those plunges and follow the call, Sirenesque though they may be. Better to burn in a hell that is certain than to freeze in a cave, never to feel the warmth of the fire.
Alongside that, there is an urge to ditch the digital leash that ties us all to these machines. Restraint, less dependence on the immediate and more compliance with the ways of the Ancients. Just for a little bit. Let’s see what those voices are saying. Let’s walk along the Via Roma, go into the old bars where barrels of Marsala await, climb Mt Etna, swim in a cool sea, deep and blue and sweet.
To climb the fig tree and take the fruit at the top, where it is ripe and sunny. To dig along the ancient sites for a shard, a message, a rune. To race alongside the dolphins. To eat really fresh food and drink pure but simple wine. To really crave a plate of pasta and to eat it as if it were your last meal.
Hold on, I’m coming.