Divided feelings

30 June 2013

I am drinking gin at a coffee bar when two Americans come in to discuss, in sign language, some hot dog sandwiches displayed in the window. I speak loud Italian and express in this way some of my divided feelings about my own country. We go to the villa for cocktails and see from the terrace the city like a painted backdrop; we hear the famous bells.

Cheever’s journals: this is a light touch, and funny, and you have done exactly this. In Jaén you’d avoid Americans in large groups except on major U.S. holidays. You have, in your life, concealed your ability to speak English. It’s a small thing: you want to show you’re better, you don’t like being on the outside. (Especially when being outside means being related to those drunk assholes, the ones in four-leaf-clover leis.)

All of these feelings—the shedding yourself, the conflicted sentiment towards your origins, the sense of doomed likeness, the constant straining to prove otherwise—were probably prefigured as soon as you left the Midwest for the coasts.

Maybe I like reading these journals because Cheever’s flaws are very close to my own, and because he’s so much more lucid, anatomizing them.