The Ideal Imaginary World

There is a word for those who experience sensory overload from the surfeit of artistic wonders in Florence; it’s called Stendhal’s syndrome, according to Guin’s tourist guide to Tuscany.

Touring in Wine Country, it says on the cover in white sans-serif font against a red-brick background. Guin lightly thumbs through the glossy pages of her tourist guide, running her fingers lightly over the dilapidated buildings shown in four-colour detail, and wonders why Italy is always red, or orange, or sometimes sunny yellow, the colour of summer, the colour of olive oil in kitschy Pasadena restaurants, the colour of golden crust, crispy and buttery-yellow on her tongue, the colour of cheese and sunflowers and poppies and leaves that turn golden-brown under the Tuscan sun. Nora had once told her Italy tasted like freedom, and now the taste of freedom overrides the flavour of pesto and ricotta and pasta and garlic and now Guin is hungry, hungry for food and freedom and fun and god, does she want a cigarette, how can she survive twelve hours without one?

“Place your seatbacks trays in a fully upright position,” the stewardess, no, flight attendant says, but Guin is already upright, already excited, already tense for the bright, glimmering adventure “out there.” This is your first taste of freedom, she tells herself, independence and fear go hand-in-hand and if she thinks about it long and hard enough, she could connect the two words together somehow to form an equation that spells out liberty, the only sort of math Guin knows. Guin is leaving everything behind her, her mother, her insecurities, her anorexia, her apartment, California, New York, a mountain of scholastic debt, and any and perhaps all possibilities for a job, or so her mother tells her, but it doesn’t matter now, it doesn’t matter that she’s only pushing herself further into debt because she’s taken out a personal loan to fund this trip into Europe, all that matters is that she is going.

She and Nora are taking their own odyssey across Europe, from Italy to Austria to Hungary to Turkey back through Hungary to Germany then France then England then Wales then Scotland then Ireland, Nora on her travel grant to write her NOMAD, Guin simply because she can, because she wants part of this impermanence Nora is composed of, the impermanence that Guin’s best friend eats, sleeps, breathes, and lives.

Maybe Guin just wants to be part of the magic of Nora’s writing; her relationship to Nora’s work is like that of an aunt and her nieces and nephews: she watches fondly as the words grow up underneath Nora’s talented fingers, occasionally giving Nora her opinion, occasionally taking the words out to play and then returning them to Nora for her best friend to discipline and edit into masterful prose. Guin thinks she would make an indifferent mother because of her relationship to her own writing, which she has placed deep in the back drawers of her mind for the time being. Words sometimes leak out of her head like tears and when they do, Guin lets them flow freely, dribbling over onto pages and pages of tea-stained notebook pages, indulging in their every whims, and when the words retreat back into her skull, she makes no effort to dredge them out into the open again.

She doesn’t feel like writing right now, but that’s okay, she can’t use the tray tables yet anyhow. The plane is taxiing in the runway before takeoff and this part of the flight Guin must always be awake for, takeoff and landing, despite her easy and probably enviable ability to sleep on planes. That she can sleep without trouble on long transcontinental, transatlantic, and transpacific flights is remarkable, considering the fact that Guin has been an insomniac since she was seven years old. Guin considers it blank space, the dead time between departure and arrival, which always makes her think of road trips she used to take with her family through the vast geographies of California, when she would turn on music and fall asleep, curled up in the third seat of their Mazda MPV, having created a cocoon of sweatshirts, books, and CDs.

She wants to listen to music, but the plane hasn’t yet left the ground, and all electronic items must be turned off, says the flight attendant. She stares out the window of her United flight 1567 for her last glimpse of American concrete for almost four months. The plane is turning onto their runway and she can feel it, the revving of the engines beneath them, the whining, building, increasing sound of anticipation as the plane builds up speed and wait for it, wait for it—there it is: the first breathless moment of weightlessness before gravity takes hold of you again as the plane gains altitude. Guin watches as the world outside falls away from her and becomes impossibly small, as though the Earth understands her desire to view the world as a map, a flat, two-dimensional surface over which she can chart her course and destinations.

Guin doesn’t know when the plane reaches cruising altitude, but she makes an educated guess and brings out her iPod and a sketchbook and thinks about sketching Colin or Chris or Theo, men she wants to fuck in her life, men who are the creation of her pen and pencil. Lately she’s developed an obsession with Chris, maybe because he’s the embodiment of every rockstar fantasy she’s ever had and he’s distant and mysterious and has a large metaphorical cock, that is, he has a masculine presence that dominates her own intensity, because a large cock is really just the icing on a cake.

She draws people the way she is attracted to them, that is, she draws their eyes first, then their jawline, then hair, then nose and lips and neck and shoulders and the rest of their bodies. Chris’s eyes hide his feelings and intentions with their long, sleepy eyelashes, rimmed with the prerequisite rockstar eyeliner, and she find his eyes the most attractive, because the air of mystery he retains is what she likes about him, and he will forever will be her elusive quarry and she likes that; she’s on the hunt for Chris, the real Chris in her life.

“You draw really well,” the man to her right says. Guin looks up from her work and smiles. His eyes are bright blue, wide and guileless, his jawline aesthetically square and curiously lacking in conviction, his honey-blond hair spiked attractively. Guin immediately thinks of Tomas, Nora’s literary starfucker casual fuck, although she’s never met him, because any description she’s ever heard of Tomas is that he is the poster child of Ivy League prep and “blankly attractive.” The man sitting next to her is “blankly attractive,” the sort of man her mother would find appealing and the sort of man Guin would never ever be able to sleep with: clean-cut, with good prospects, safe. Guin imagines walking into the airplane lavatory and leaving the door unlocked so that the man follows her and breathless and horny, they’ll fuck up against the door of the cramped plane bathroom, but she also imagines that the sex will be blank and decent, and gives up the thought. Nevertheless, Guin smiles coquettishly and gives a fetching sidelong glance in the way she’s practiced and perfected over the years.

“Thanks,” she says, continuing to sketch along Chris’s Adam’s apple, holding her head at that angle she’s adopted for seduction or recital, and that’s what she’s doing, putting on a performance for this blankly attractive man, she’s drawing to draw him in and sometimes she wonders if she’s terrible for leading men on this way, but she brushes that thought away with a few eraser bits.

“Is he anyone you know?” the man asks, leaning over so that she catches a whiff of his cologne, expensive and tasteful, and Guin smiles to see him buy into her games, knows that every move of his is as calculated as hers and the complicated dance of seduction men and women bob and weave around each other is one she knows by heart, the steps rooted in her memory, allowing her personal flourishes for the love of the hunt.

“No, just someone out of my head,” she answers, and thinks about Christian Bale and Pat Bateman; maybe he’s actually a psycho underneath, because after all, all of Bateman’s work colleagues considered him too much of a dork to be a serial killer. Maybe this man is a serial killer beneath his wide, guileless baby blue eyes. But this man is nowhere near as hot as Christian Bale and Guin immediately rules out the potential of being picked up in the Florentine airport in bits and pieces. “His name is Chris.”

The man smiles at this small tidbit of information she’s volunteered and offers one in return. It’s a name, but Guin forgets the instant she hears it, not that it mattered because she wasn’t going to call him when they separated ways in Florence anyway. To be polite, she gives him her name in return, Guinevere Jones, but the man doesn’t believe her, she can see it in his eyes because her name doesn’t fit her large, almond-shaped eyes and pale gold skin, and to prove her point, she brings out her passport, to be stamped with an Italianate seal once she arrives, and there it is in innocuous official print: Guinevere Sumi Jones. She likes her name, a little Asian sandwiched between two slices of Wales, almost the exact inversion of whom she is, a little Welsh smothered with Korean skin.

She likes it because she is a statement, she has a presence, as if the very fact of her mismatched name made her interesting, arresting, even, and already she is getting bored with this blankly attractive man and stops answering his questions. She tunes him out with Neutral Milk Hotel and “Song Against Sex,” a song she chose because of the upbeat, start-of-a-movie feel to it. Guin consciously lives out the fiction of her life, set to a soundtrack and narrated by Christopher Plummer, and right now, Neutral Milk Hotel is playing with the credits running underneath the screen as she starts her movie of European odyssey. She knows what song she’ll play when she’s on her way to an artists’ retreat somewhere in rural Tuscany, it will be “The Shining” by Badly Drawn Boy to set the mood, and maybe “The Shining” will become the theme song of summer and along with The Beach Boys’ greatest hits, the soundtrack of Moulin Rouge, the Beatles One anthology, Janet Jackson’s “Someone to Call My Lover” with that riff she stole off of “Ventura Highway” by America, Uncle Kracker’s “Follow Me,” otherwise known as the perfect sit-up song, and Destiny’s Child’s “Bootylicious.” She thinks about driving through the streets of Pasadena as her friend Susan visited her from New York, singing “Come What May” at the top of their lungs, harmonizing as Guin sang Satine and Susan sang Christian, about Susan’s conscious decision to have “Come What May” leave an indelible impression on her mind as the theme song of that one glorious spring break, and Guin knows that’s what she’s doing, The Shining” is going to be the theme song of this trip, so that when Guin listens to it again some grey and distant day in the future, she’ll remember Italy, remember Tuscan summers, remember the smell of cool wine cellars and warm afternoons, and remember the taste of freedom.

Twelve hours of blank space and Guin immediately wakes up, instinctively knowing when the plane is to land. The captain announces over the intercom that they will be starting their descent in fifteen minutes and suddenly Guin feels a curiously pleasant ache in her stomach or maybe it’s her lower back, a feeling she used to associate with Sundays, when nearly tangible morning light poured in through her windows with the smell of pancakes, a feeling she gets right before a drop in a roller coaster, a feeling she knows will intensify the moment she feels the plane tilt forward in the briefest instant of zero g before gravity again takes hold. Landing is an inversion of takeoff and she wonders if everything in life has this perfect symmetry, like her name and her appearance, like the inversion between Firenze and Florence, and some pretentiously intellectual part of Guin reminds her that life has perfect symmetry in it because of the relationship between birth and death, because every breath comes in pairs, one in, one out, except at two occasions in our lives, the moment we are born and the moment we die.

The descent is filled with mild turbulence and Guin loves airplane turbulence mostly because it makes her mother nervous and it reminds her of the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland and makes her feel like an adventurer. She knows the moment the plane’s wheels touch the ground the captain plies the brakes like there’s no tomorrow, but the rushing sound of wind roaring past the cabin sounds like acceleration and not deceleration, and although Newton’s first law of physics tells her she’s leaning forward because of inertia, she can’t help but think that this is somehow another inversion.

Gone for four months and only one suitcase; her mother would be horrified. Guin waits at the baggage terminal, reading the signs printed neatly in both Italian and English and is pleased at her ability to interpret the Italian and she’s grateful for her proficiency in Spanish, her dabbling in elementary-school French, her inherent joy in deciphering symbols and languages and the finer points of foreign grammar. She thinks there is relationship between her love of words and her love of foreign languages, her gift with mimicking accents and her ability to pick up smatterings of different tongues with the greatest of ease. Guin knows the most random assortment of phrases in other languages, sono serifou zen-zen settotokuryoku nakute in Japanese, rydw im gymraes in Welsh, il fait tres beau aujourd’hui in French (although she actually knows more French than that, enough to construct simple sentences, in fact), slan go foil in Irish, ya soschla s’uma in Russian, and even I Nauco na tiuca in Quenya and pedo i lam edhellen in Sindarin.

As of this moment, she knows only a few words in Italian that she halfheartedly remembers from the few high school lunches she spent inside Signora Bologna’s algebra II/trigonometry classroom like andiamo and dove and eccola! and il mare and bella and bicicleta. She likes the word bicicleta the most; it means “bicycle” and she likes it because Italian pronunciation makes it sound dirty, she loves that c with i or e is ch and she loves that every language in the world has its own idiosyncrasies. The only phrase Guin remembers off the top of her head is Sei troppo sexi, non lo sopporto, which means “You’re so sexy I can’t stand it” and it figures that the only completely sentence in Italian running through her head is a pickup line. Somehow Guin finds it appropriate because the ability to speak many languages is sexy as fuck, polyglot-ism is something she puts a premium on, and there was that one time she was sitting with her gay posse in their apartment on 14th street fending off the advances of one rank Matt Kelan, the lone hetero amongst homos, who claimed her ability with languages was “fascinating” and then attempted to cop a feel.

Someone at the airport hails her a taxicab, hailing her as ai, che bella! and Guin smiles politely at the man, remembering that she’s in Italy now, that men gesticulated and made love to women in the street, perfecting the art of seduction and flirtation as surely as the old masters perfected the art of painting during the Renaissance. Moira O’Grady once told her that for Italian men, all women were either Madonnas or Whores, and Guin likes that, she likes that they call her a Madonna because over here it is a culturally embedded way of viewing women instead of the product of her own aloof coldness, that the pedestal beneath her feet is simply an elevated walkway all beautiful women walk in Italy. She likes it because she’s a Madonna on the surface and a Whore underneath, like the paper she once wrote on the women in James Joyce’s PORTRAIT OF THE YOUNG MAN AS AN ARTIST about the strange holy way Stephen Dedalus views the prostitutes of Dublin and the profane manner in which he sees the Virgin and if Guin were anything, she would rather be the former.

On her way to La Ritrata somewhere in the middle of Chianti Classico, Guin pulls out her iPod and turns on “The Shining” by Badly Drawn Boy. She remembers the moment Camille introduced her to the wonder that was Badly Drawn Boy and wishes briefly that she were here with her to admire the surfeit of gorgeous scenery, Camille, the woman she calls Goddess, not in any pagan, feminine-principle-affirming way, but because Camille is the Goddess of Guin’s Idolatry, a joke they’ve shared since they first met, a woman she imagines looks like a period, a direct and affirmative statement at the end of a sentence. Guin conducts passionate platonic love affairs with women in a way she never could with men and she feels that sometimes love and lust are completely separate in her life. She is in theory bisexual, but perhaps that isn’t the right word, homosocial isn’t it either because she isn’t sociable only with women, homoerotic doesn’t work either because despite Guin’s love of women, she can’t find the eros in her relationship with them, perhaps the word is homophilic, because the Greeks knew the difference between love and lust.

Guin laughs at her own pretentious word-mongering as the superstrade (the closest she can figure that means is “freeway”) slowly winds through the provinces southwest of Florence on the way into the most famous red-wine producing region in Central Italy, turning quickly from paved concrete roadways into dirt paths. The countryside looks like something out of her art history textbooks, like the frescos painted on the walls of chapels, hilly and green and lush and fertile and unbelievably sun-kissed. She passes large estates and her heart jumps with something familiar because she feels as though she knows Tuscany already, it feels like somewhere else, and she can’t quite place her finger on it. It makes her vaguely uncomfortable because Italy is supposed to be a culture shock, someplace where air, water, and living taste different.

She passes another large estate, a leftover from the mezzadria crop-sharing system her driver tells her in broken English, and then realises Italy feels like a May afternoon in southern California, Italy feels like E block free in high school, laying out on a sunny terrace reading Jung and waiting for her English teacher to walk by, Italy even looks like her high school with its terracotta tile roofs and simple Etruscan columns and she doesn’t like the idea because she meant to leave everything behind for four magical months and if Italy already feels familiar, what if the rest of Europe feels the same?

In the distance, Guin can see a small farmhouse on the crest of a hill and with a jolt, she realises that that must be it, that that must be La Ritrata, and waiting there would be Nora, having already spent two weeks before her arrival with artists, poets, musicians, and writers. The driver pulls up dangerously close to the sun-baked walls and helps Guin with her bags, his swarthy face creased in a smile and Guin tips him with a smile and some money, taking care to thank him with a grazie, placing the musical emphasis on the first syllable so that she can almost see the staff in front of her eyes, a progression of 5-3-4. Ah, prego, prego! (6-5, 6-5, two slurred notes, a quarter note tied with a sixteenth) the driver exclaims, running off on a string of Italian and blowing a kiss in Guin’s direction before driving back to Florence to flirt with another prospective customer.

Guin turns back to the farmhouse, which is a collection of small buildings actually, pleased at the growing feeling of discomfiture in her gut because Italy is starting to look less familiar and more foreign; this farmhouse isn’t a villa, it’s an artists’ retreat in a European country. It looks old and run down and delightfully Mediterranean although she knows that they must be miles away from the southern coast of Italy. She glances about for a sign, an official building perhaps, but La Ritrata is remaining stubbornly blank and indecipherable, so Guin makes her way to the largest building in the distance.

And then she sees her, holding court with various artists and musicians, being her most charming “glamazon” self, her Nora, her writer-twin, the Byron to her Shelley, unmistakable from the distance with her bright red hair. Guin walks up the clearing slowly, wondering how long it will take before her best friend notices the lone traveler arriving with one tattered suitcase, if she’ll be able to walk up to the table and sit down unnoticed and be part of the scene before Nora breaks away and realises that Guin is here. As it pans out, Guin is nearly at the table before Nora looks up with rapid-fire expletives of “Ohmygod, no fucking way, no fucking way, fuck, fuck!” jumps from her seat and runs towards Guin with her arms outstretched. And Guin is dropping her bags and running too, running like a train on the slide route to an inevitability, they hug like a trainwreck, arms and shoulders and even legs tangled about together in a collision of two girls meeting after a two-week separation. Nora lifts Guin clear off her feet, wrapping the dark-haired girl in long arms that seem to be have been made specifically for hugging.

It’s at times like this Guin remembers that she’s short, a fact she’s spent her entire life trying to forget by masquerading behind tall shoes and impeccable posture, but she allows herself a moment to relish her insignificant height, surrounded by bone-crushing hugs as though she’s being embraced by the Tuscan sun because Nora is all red and orange and pink and white like the pictures of Florence on the pages of Guin’s art history textbooks. Nora brings Guin to the table and introduces her to the artists in the bohemian sense of the word assembled around.

There is Aoifre, another American like herself and Nora with an improbable name, who makes jewelry and writes sonnets on the back pages of library books, owns a Vespa and this is his sixth summer at La Ritrata; there is Francois, an honest-to-goodness Frenchman who satisfies every cherished notion others harbour of his countrymen, from the smarmy name taken straight out of a romance novel to the annonyingly pretentious intellectual snobbery; there is Dahlia, someone Nora had apparently met before this trip, a woman so viciously cool, so unfuckingbelievably rich, and in many ways so intimidatingly lesbian her blue eyes sting and prick at Guin with barely disguised conviction.

Guin assesses the different men and women at the table, mentally shuffling them in the order of how she would sleep with them, and it’s a complicated scale and balance that weighs the physical attractiveness, talentedness, and just sheer sexiness of the prospective lovers in relation to each other and themselves. Guin came to Italy to write, but she also came to fuck, she came to experience everything about Europe and dammit if that didn’t include sex. The scales shift inside her head and it looks as though Alex the writer from England may have found a spot on the top rung of her ladder of People to Fuck because he looks like Jeremy Irons and has an impeccable accent and her mother isn’t around or anyone else judgmental really because Alex is oozing sensuality the way overripe fruit oozes over-sugared juice through thin skin. Guin meets his gaze directly over the table and feels her left eyebrow tilt upward slightly and Alex responds with a slight smirk. She smiles because she’s laid down the challenge the way a courtly lady would drop her handkerchief discreetly in the fourteenth century and like a knight-in-shining armour, Alex has picked it up and pressed it to his breast. She half wants to fuck him already because he understands courtly behaviour and she doesn’t care if he’s probably in his forties because Alex is a man and like good wine or cheese, he’s one of those men who’s better aged.

On the other hand, there is Robbie, who Guin has already privately dubbed Sirius Wild in her head because that’s exactly who he looks like: a cross between Sirius Black and Curt Wild, with brown longish hair and makeup, and who is a musician from Scotland, as his brogue betrays his origins before he does. Despite the rising heat of the late Tuscan afternoon, Robbie and Dahlia are both wearing leather jackets and the rivalry to out-cool, out-posture, out-alpha-male each other shimmers below the surface. Despite claiming to be close friends with Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, Robbie is clearly losing the battle against the smaller woman at the table because of his dorkishness, but Guin finds that endearing and cute and her chances of sleeping with Robbie are greater than her chances of sleeping with Alex, so again the men shift places on the Ladder of People to Fuck. Guin figures that at best she’ll manage a tense sexual flirtation with Alex and end up making love to Robbie in his room one hot summer night.

An artist from England named Daisy is sent to fetch the proprietor of the place, a stout, rosy-faced woman clearly from southern Italy named Rosa who speaks perfect English and Italian and French and Spanish and bustles off with Guin and Nora in tow to show them the room they will share. Nora has her side of the room strewn with clothes and papers and books the way it is in her apartment and Rosa leaves the two of them with an exhortation to join them for a swim in the pool on the veranda.

And then it’s real, it’s all incredibly real, the heat and green and smell of baking bread, dressed in short summer dresses that make Guin feel incredibly leggy and thin and beautiful and tan despite being perhaps something to the contrary as the Italian sun burns reddish highlights into the slippery waterfall black of her hair and deepens the gold of her skin. It smells like summer, it smells like the end-of-the-school-year, a combination of cut greens and warm dust and Guin can feel herself turn into her summer self, nymph-like and contrary because the identity she’s chosen for herself in Tuscany is Lo, Lolita, Dolores Haze.

She feels herself becoming consciously naive, her arms and legs slipping into the ungainly and awkward grace of a girl just coming to know herself, and in some ways, that is exactly what Guin is doing, she’s coming to know herself outside of America, outside of her family, outside of her major, outside of her imminent place in the workforce, outside of her pressing weight issues, outside of everything that isn’t the present, that isn’t Nora and herself running to the tops of Tuscan hills and rolling down the other side, that isn’t swimming in the pools completely naked (oh the difference between the skimpiest bathing suit and wearing nothing at all!), that isn’t sitting on Alex’s lap and tickling his ear with an olive leaf while he reads bits of perfect prose aloud to her, that isn’t her feigned disinterest in Robbie as they pretend to regard each other with disdain, that isn’t wandering around half-dressed as Eduardo from Barcelona sketches her modest curves against the fertile landscape, that isn’t passing a bottle of red wine around after dinner (oh how difficult it is to be vegetarian in Italy!), smoking cigarettes and trading bawdy stories as Nora performs her practiced fabliau, that isn’t imagining what it would be like to kiss Rachel’s perfect rose-bloom lips, that isn’t finally doing so one drunken night, that isn’t dancing on the grass underneath the stars to Robbie’s musical stylings, that isn’t the pages and pages of slightly smutty writings she’s produced, that isn’t slight rivalry she’s caused between Robbie and Alex that she relishes, that isn’t when Robbie finally corners her on a walk back from the still grape-less vineyards on a sultry night and the two of them race back to his room where he plays her as skillfully as he does his guitar and Guin allows herself the indulgence of imagining herself an instrument that Robbie plays at a concert and that thought fades away into dreams of drum and strings and heartbroken voices and when she wakes up again, she studies Robbie’s eyebrows and finds them the most expressive part of his face and falls in love with them.

Before she was a Madonna and now she’s a Whore because although she’s sleeping with Robbie she’s still flirting with Alex and now there’s another man on the scene and his name is Niccolo and his English is imperfect and broken but Guin finds that sexy as fuck and she finds out just how sexy as fuck it is one night when Niccolo presses her into ground beneath the olive trees in the grove and whispers in a language that makes sin sound almost holy. She comes back from the grove the next morning and finds Rachel walking out of Robbie’s room but she doesn’t feel jealous nor does Robbie look guilty over breakfast that morning and they smile privately at each other in a way they’ve never done before because of their feigned disinterest in each other, as though their small acts of infidelity bound them together more than before.

Her flirtation with Alex doesn’t go anywhere because Alex is returning to England soon and the morning as he leaves for the airport she races down the steps towards the taxi and throws herself into his arms, wraps her legs around his waist and kisses him deeply, fully, pressing her body against his so hard the imprint of his belt buckle against her inner thigh stays for days afterwards. Soon enough it’s time for Guin and Nora to continue their trek throughout Europe and leave La Ritrata, where have three weeks gone so quickly? But Aoifre presents both of them with bracelets he’s made, Daisy a small portrait, Francois his good opinion, and Guin can die happy at last because lo and behold, Robbie’s written a song for her and it’s called “Small Acts of Infidelity,” it’s not bad and this is her honest, true opinion as a musician and as a lover, and they part with promises to be in contact and Guin wonders if that will be true or if Robbie will fade into the annals of memory as her Tuscan summer fling.

As the taxi pulls away from La Ritrata, Guin plays “The Shining” again and now it seems like a perfect end credits song and she laughs as she thinks of the credits on the screen as Cast: Guin as Lolita, Nora as Molly Bloom, Alex as Jeremy Irons, Robbie as Ewan McGregor, Rachel as Rachel Weisz, and Niccolo as Random Italian Lover. If her life were a movie, the screen would be fading to black right now and a preview for the next episode in Guin and Nora’s Epic European Odyssey with shots of them wandering around Venice will appear. If her life were a book, the chapter will have ended and right now they’re traveling in the blank space between the end of one sentence and the beginning of another.

Venice, here they come.

Word Count5350

Author's Note

I wrote this late one night when I was 19 years old, bedridden and recovering from having fallen 1000ft during a skiing accident. I had just watched Stealing Beauty an exhorbitant amount of times, I’d come to the conclusion that in the Ideal Imaginary World, I’d be in an artist’s retreat in Tuscany fucking Jeremy Irons and Ewan McGregor and possibly making out with Rachel Weisz. What can I say? I was 19 and over(under)sexed and incredibly narcissistic.

Reader's Advisory

There is vulgar language, vulgar behavior, and run-on sentences. This piece is drenched with the self-importance and self-indulgence of a teenaged girl.