Scene 8
Preparing for the Journey

Ancient Rome, The Italian Renaissance, And Postmodern Love

by Frederick Noble

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We have flashed back briefly, to the last on again period for our two lovers. Things have been going well, but we know itís a tenuous hold our hero has on our heroine. The San Francisco art school could send a letter of acceptance any minute and our hero is pushed to his limit. The curtain opens to a familiar scene, the art studio of a major metropolitan university.

For years I'd passed endless posters proclaiming the benefits of studying abroad. I'd checked into it several times but it was always far too expensive. After I graduated the first time I looked back and regretted not going to Europe when I had no job that would have gotten in the way, few bills to take care of, no pets, etc.  However, during my return journey through college I was receiving a considerable amount of financial aid, all loans from Uncle Sam, and when Heather mentioned her application for the University of Georgia Studies Abroad in Italy, I thought "Hmm, I AM getting lots of loans and I could put them to good use instead of paying off credit cards..."

"A man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see. The grand object of traveling is to see the shores of the Mediterranean."
Samuel Johnson, as quoted in Boswell’s Life of Johnson

Heather was surprised I was interested, and I was, again, surprised at her surprise. The thought of having her to myself, away from all her suitors and ghosts and other distractions in the romantic setting of Italy cemented my decision.

The up-front cost of the program - $6,080. This included airfare there and back, accommodations, two meals a day and lots of transportation between the many cities we'd be visiting. It looked like a 9 week guided tour of Italy:

  • Naples
  • Pompeii
  • Paestum
  • Rome
  • Caserta Royal Palace
  • Hadrian's Villa and Tivoli
  • Cortona
  • Siena
  • Florence
  • Perugia
  • Assisi
  • Venice

I'd get a couple classes credit, but that was just a lever I’d use to help pry the money out of my family, friends and financial aid office. In addition, you could delay your return flight by as many weeks as you could afford to survive.
I applied.
Weeks passed.
I had that ceremonial dinner at Po’ Folks followed by that long, white-knuckled drive. By the time I got to Athens I was so manic, so happy to have survived the trip, I didn’t tell Lena a thing about it. It was probably the shame of being such an emotional wreck. The ride back home wasn’t a heck of a lot easier but I didn’t have to keep the pedal to the metal. I decided if we both got accepted and we were still “off again” I’d still have make the best of it. Maybe I’d skip out of the tours, hook up with some Italian beauty and drink myself stupid.
I opened the letter from UGA with baited breath. I'd been accepted for the trip! There was some doubt, but very little. Heather was accepted too. I was glad, it might lead to the on-again state. All I had to do was get the money.

I can't disguise the pounding of my heart
It beats so strong
It's in your eyes, what can I say
That turns me on
I don't care where we go
I don't care what we do
I don't care pretty baby
Just take me with you
Come on and touch the place in me
That's calling out your name
We want each other oh so much
Why must we play this game
I don't care where we go
I don't care what we do
I don't care pretty baby
Just take me with you
I don't care if we spend the night at your mansion
I don't care if we spend the night out of town
All I want is to spend the night together
All I want is to spend the night in your arms
The way you treat me oh so right
You're sheer perfection
You drive me crazy, you drive me all night
Just don't break the connection
I don't care where we go
I don't care what we do
I don't care pretty baby
Just take me with you
I don't care where we go
I don't care what we do
I don't care pretty baby
Just take me with you
Take me with you
Come on and take me with you
Oh won't you take me with you
Prince, Take Me With U, from Purple Rain

I worked overtime, I begged relatives, I borrowed heavily from credit cards with astounding interest rates, I sold sculpture at absurdly low prices, I’d have held up liquor stores if I thought I’d have gotten away with it. I got the money, barely.

I had a going away party for which no one showed. I have a perfectly rational fear of flying and I thought the odds were good that it was the last opportunity for my slack friends to see me. I'd barely survived the month leading up to the trip as it was. God was obviously trying to kill me, or perhaps they were bad omens trying to warn me away from the fool’s venture.
As mentioned, my car was wrecked. It ended up in and out of the shop for the two months leading up to the trip. My apartment was broken into and my bicycle, then my transportation, was stolen. On my walk to work in the morning I was narrowly missed in several car wrecks.
As mentioned, my personal life was in the same state as my car - in and out of the shop all the way up to my departure.

My lifelong luck being far on the good side, I figured I was either due to pay the balance and crash into the sea or things should begin to swing back up and the trip would be a blast.

You know, the landlord rang my front door bell.
I let it ring for a long, long spell.
I went to the window,
I peeped through the blind,
And asked him to tell me what's on his mind.
He said,
Money, honey.
Money, honey.
Money, honey, if you want to get along with me.
Well, I screamed and I hollered,
I was so hard-pressed.
I called the woman that I loved the best.
I finally got my baby about half past three,
She said I'd like to know what you want with me.
I said,
Money, honey.
Money, honey.
Money, honey,
If you want to get along with me.
Well, I said tell me baby, what's wrong with you?
Money, honey.
Money, honey.
Money, honey,
If you want to get a long with me.
Well, I've learned my lesson and now I know
The sun may shine and the winds may blow.
The women may come and the women may go,
But before I say I love you so,
I want
Money, honey.
Money, honey.
Money, honey,
If you want to get along with me.
Money Honey, words and music by Jesse Stone (but let's face it, the Little Richard version is the only one that matters)

I received a message from my brother across the water,
he sat laughing as he wrote, 'the end's in sight.'
So I said goodbye to all my friends and packed my hopes inside a matchbox
cause I know it's time to fly.
Come on, meet me in the morning, meet me in the middle of the night.
The morning light is coming, don't it make you wanna go and feel alright.
I just jumped a train that never stops,
so know somehow they'll know I never finished paying for my ride.
Someone pushed a gun into my hand,
tell me I'm the type of man to fight the fight that I'll require.
Come on, come on now, meet me in the morning, meet me in the middle of the night.
The morning light is coming, don't it make you wanna go and feel alright.
Oh, mama, well I think it's time I'm leaving, nothing here to make me stay.
Whoa, mama, well it must be time I'm going,
they're knocking down them doors and trying to take me away.
Please Mr. Brakeman, won't you ring your bell and ring loud and clear?
Please Mr. Fireman, won't you ring your bell? Tell the people they got to fly away from here.
I once saw a picture of a lady with a baby, suddenly they have a very, very special smile.
We are in the middle of a change in destination, when the train stops, all together we will smile.
Oh, come on, come one, now, meet me in the morning.
Won't you meet me in the middle of the night, night, night?
Everybody know the morning time is coming? Don't it make you wanna feel alright.
Ah, ah, yeah, make me feel alright. Fly now, baby,
Get to fly, yeah. Fly now, baby.
Led Zeppelin, Night Flight

 

A feather caught in a spider web in a small window in a tower in Siena
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