My beige suede ankle boots were thrown out the door, in a rather gentle act of aggression, landing softly not far from the doorway. A long time ago, in another country, this was practiced to wish someone good luck before a journey. My psyche pretended this was the case, whereas the shoe thrower was plunged into a momentary blackness as an epitaph to the encounter. My brief presence had taken his psyche to social modernist buildings found in Belgrade. Vacated buildings blackened in a fire complete with torn curtains billowing like rags and shattered glass windows. About as nourishing as a carbohydrate on carbohydrate snack.
When your shoes are traveling in mid-air and crossing a threshold through no volition of your own, you wonder maybe it’s not time to leave the apartment but rather the whole damn country. What was this journey I had already received well wishes for? The signal came in the form of Christo’s Floating Piers, an invitation to walk on water to an island on a lake, its pathway covered in a bright orange cloth. I went from two boots out the door to the country as boot. I had been thrown out into the world (Heideggerian thrownness).
Drunk on Campari, every month I went to the land of Campari, slowly making my way further and further south to where the lemon trees grew. Land had supplanted man. I went back and back, again and again. Without ever having written a book, I was living somewhere between Henry James’s Italian Hours and Goethe’s Italian Years – a form of Juni’s Italian Days. The train ticket prices found on Trenitalia were like a gift from God.
Southern Italy was an unknown of which I had formed a picture with my ears and the things I heard whispered was not safe. When I googled Sicily thinking of lemons, I found instead the African migrant crisis on the island of Lampedusa. I saw refugee eyes peering at me through the branches.
After my trip to Naples, I was ashamed of myself for having put one bank card in my jacket, some cash in my shoe, another credit card in my bag, and my passport in another pocket so that I wouldn’t lose everything at once if a scooter riding mugger snatched my bag off my shoulder. Now having to be mindful of my shoe, bag, and jacket, I found myself in a lively residential neighborhood in the center of town where people brought home 5 pizza boxes for dinner on their scooters. They actually had no free hands to make a getaway with my bag. Nowhere in Italy did I feel more taken care of by the community even as a tourist. One cappuccino later, and my order was remembered the next day.
Having my shoes thrown out the door intentionally, was unintentionally a blessing for my Italian days.