I return to Italy, eat octopus in a little bistro in the Cinque Terre, hike high into the hills the next morning, sit on a rock and look down on the seaside villages, mere blurs of color to my tired, old eyes.
The last time I was there with my wife, the trail between the villages was slick with recent rain. She slipped at the top of a wooden staircase and bounced down the steps on her ample derriere. I rushed to her, sitting at the bottom. She said: Would you like to see that again?
That was before age caught up with us and made pratfalls less humorous, then not humorous at all.
After that, I return to southern France, to the mental hospital where Vincent van Gogh spent the last year of his life. The woman in the booth tears off my ticket. She’s dark-haired, attractive, with a small tight body and sinewy hands and forearms. She must be a mental patient, I think, whose progress has earned her the privilege of working this ticket booth. It is the only reason I can think of for the frank, deeply sexual look she gives me as she hands me my change.