Published in The Weeklings, Sept. 29, 2016.
In midlife and more, with a long marriage gone bust and a career going nowhere, I began taking my father’s family up on their many invitations to visit Naples. I’d been over to the ancient city before, I knew the language, and I could always find a cheap flight. As for food and drink, that was cheaper yet, often free, like the lodging. I mean, to spend three weeks or a month walking my father’s old Gulf-side blocks, his centro storico — especially since the old man was dying, during those same difficult years — well, it made as much sense as holing up and hammering away at my so-called “career:” some sort of writer, some sort of teacher. I mean, might not Naples offer a solution? For the dwindling remainder of my own life? To suss out answers, yea or nay, took me a good decade of over-and-back. I found help in this country too, naturally, some of it coming from my father himself. Once, I’m convinced, I heard from him after he passed. Just now, however, while there’s no ghost to interrupt, I ought to admit that there remains plenty I haven’t solved. Plenty of mystery yet, no question. Even towards the end of my Neapolitan changes, a few years into the present millennium, I still knew so little that, when I took my shirt off in a good-looking young painter’s apartment workspace, all I could do was wonder.
The woman had asked me to strip down, I knew that much. The undershirt as well, she’d specified... (see link to continue)