Writing about not sleeping is such a pathetic exercise. Boo fuckin’ Hoo. Taxis start picking up airport-bound writers at three in the morning. I have the noisiest fucking room in the hotel; the first room on the second floor, right off the stairs, and right over the hotel entrance. Sound caroms off the stone floors and down hallways and up staircases. The rolly suitcase percussion ensemble, the random scraping of furniture and dropping of toiletries, and the fucking quarter hour bells of Erice recapitulate a masterful version of ‘The Lord Chancellor’s Nightmare Song.’ So I rouse my sorry ass to write: a bloggish post, an essay revision, and the Bread Loaf workshop evaluation. Apparently, I will sleep when I am dead. Or next Thursday.
I’m on the 8:45am van from Erice to Palermo Aeroporto. Alice will arrive on a 1:40pm flight from Rome. We get to the airport and disperse like iron filings before a magnet. I find myself standing there with a speck-and-brie sandwich in one hand and a Coke Zero in the other. Then I sit at the counter next to one of the Bread Loaf staff and we have a fine conversation about the practicality of MFA programs for distractible people. Me being an expert. Alice’s plane is still on time. I go find the pick-up location for the rent-a-car shuttle. Then I have a surprise encounter with a bright young woman I had been meaning to engage with all week. We find a bench outside and gab away. She lives in Barcelona and works for a local politician. She’s sad.
Alice is delayed a half hour. And then, there she is! Joy! Double Joy!!
A ferocious, very pale, Hebrew-speaking extended family crams onto the car rental shuttle. They wear white t-shirts proclaiming – Beeri Family / Sicily 2015. Once in the rent-a-car terminus, they move away en masse, in search, I suppose, of the ‘Clown Car’ counter. Still, it’s a pain in the ass dealing with the crush at Hertz, but eventually we are guided to our Fiat. It’s snappy-looking and soon revealed to be dead in the water. Negative pick-up. I’m not dealing with the manual/automatic gear system effectively. Alice tells me so. She uses Google Maps and we sail along. We almost take out a block-long row of fruit stalls trying to find our way into Palermo. Our hotel is a slightly shabby Grand Hotel. WiFi exists. So does a shower.
The two of us try to find dinner at six o’clock. No way, we’re in Europe. It finally happens. I love that Alice is here.