The Fifth Bite of Dessert
October 17 & 18
Kate’s here on my left on the train from Sorrento to Naples. In Napoli we’ll find passage to Roma and tomorrow I’ll fly to Brazil. What meaningless names these places can become!
They mean more to Kate—it all means more to Kate—because she’s been backpacking for a month instead of nine. Back in Madrid when we met I insisted she’d get worn down by it all too and she thought I was wrong and even if she believes me now—the way you might believe me just because you think I know better than you—she won’t really understand it until February when all her clothes are getting tattered and her pulse is unmoved by each new country. Maybe then she’ll find someone to mend her shorts the way I found someone—her—to mend mine.
The hair and the eyes and the accent are different but Kate is Sabrina. Sabrina was the German girl in Australia whose green eyes owned the first month of my trip. I was the American in Australia in the first month of her trip who helped her forget her boyfriend.
It was new and scary then, it was lonely and dazzling. It was like the first bite of a great dessert, and now its like the fifth bite. Sabrina and I thought it all meant more than it did because we were too green to know better. We were tricked by how we felt because every time we’d felt that way before it meant something important. And that’s how Kate must feel now. She’s feels that and she feels angry; she must be angry that I don’t feel it quite the same way.
In February when her clothes are tattered and she meets another guy and falls for him it will still feel really nice. She’ll still wonder if it means something and imagine being with him for more than a week. But she’ll know not to trust her feelings too much because she’ll know this isn’t like all the times she fell before…
Or maybe she already knows it because when it happened—when I got on the train in Rome—she took it pretty good. The eyes brimmed but didn’t spill, and she seemed reluctant to let go of me the way she might be reluctant to have the last bite of gelati. She was in Italy and there would always be more gelati.
The other thing you learn in Italy though is that some gelati is better than others. You can’t tell how good your first cup in Sorrento is because you’ve never tasted any others. But then you get some across from the Coliseum and it makes you appreciate the first cup more. And then you get a cone near the Pantheon and you have a new favorite. Its always possible that the next one will be better or that you’ll always love the first one best because it was new and exciting and you had never tasted anything like it before.