Procida: Fantasy Island

Procida at last! Isn’t this what I have come for? Meeting my fantasy friends from the film Il Postino? It is so long anticipated, I can’t help expecting… Well, something big.

Adventure means, by definition, that things will not go according to plan. I am soon on the ferry with my new hostel best friend John, a man from Minnesota-Swedish farm stock studying for a master’s degree in performance culture in Hamburg. We breathe the intoxicatingly fresh sea air on the upper deck of the ferry to Procida but never seem to stop talking. There is, between us, too much to talk about in too short a time. But when we arrive, I need to find my hotel, on another part of the island, and he wants to rent a bike. Will I ever see him again?

I think of the song “Yellow Submarine” firstly because when I arrived at the hotel, “we” was not “we.” As a matter of fact, I was the only guest I laid eyes on. Secondly, my room was literally submerged. There was no view unless you had a periscope or stood on the bed. It was painted – not yellow but had a blue stripe all around it.

This was all the more reason to get out of there. And anyway, I can’t wait to get out and find the movie-set beach I had passed en route from the port. I can now whip out my iPhone and go back there. Well, not quite. It still takes some asking and a lot of stopping to take pictures, something I love. The photo of the two ladies is one of my favorites. I was gratified that I had learned enough Italian to ask as I passed by them if I could please take their picture. They looked so right, so perfect that for once, I lost all shyness. I always regret that I don’t have more pictures of people, and that is because I don’t want to ask. It’s a mistake because people are friendly then, and flattered. Later, I smile just seeing their faces.

Soon I am staring at the sea in the place that had drawn me. After ordering a Panini at the beach shack, I can’t keep from asking, “Can you tell me where they filmed the village scene in Il Postino?” After all, the side of the snack shack is plastered with newspaper clipping and photos from Il Postino. It is beloved. I want to find the place where the old lady watched the world go by from a chair by her door. She waits for the fishermen to bring the world to her feet. They noisily haul in the boats, weary of the sea. They want a drink at the local tavern, to ogle the beautiful barmaid Beatrice, and to wash their hands of fish.

My question pisses off the Panini Man. He hisses something that translates into “I’m so sick of you people! I wish the movie had never been filmed!” He stomps off.

I take my Panini further down the beach past all the tourists to eat alone in tragic silence. Poetically, I will watch the waves. Then I wade in, admiring the image of human toes against the sandy ocean floor. It seemed meaningful, lyrical, this moving and poetic image. But before I can compose anything of note, I slip on a beautiful but treacherous rock and smash the arch of my foot, which starts to turn a poetic shade of violet-blue. I limp all the way back to the blue submarine, where I visit the ice machine and put my foot up. This can’t stop me, though, just as nothing stopped Il Postino from becoming a poet and winning Beatrice. I’ve come too far to hide in my room. I put on my best face and set out in search of dinner.

Gimping toward the sea, I hear, “Michele!” It is a gorgeous man on a bicycle—just like in the movies. It is John, come to look for me before his ferry leaves. Then so, just like in my fantasies, we have dinner together, along the beach, with the sun going down, and—if you squint a little—the wine is the color of sunset. Forty years younger and gay, my kind of guy. It’s just perfect, after all. I raise a glass to our own friends and to the remarkable and tender friendship between a poet and a postman on a small island off the coast of Italy

It is the very thing which drew me here.

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