Our slice of sweet

Back in 2015 I published a series of stories about the travels I took through Europe as a clueless but cute dipshit which I entitled Europe on Five Dollars a Day. I’m extremely sentimental and so I’ve attempted to hold onto every receipt, ferry ticket, picture, and postcard from those trips. Some things have been lost but I managed to hang onto two letters I received from a young Italian by the name of Massimo. I met him after our camera was stolen so you’ll have to take my word that he was gorgeous but not at all vain.

The news has been so grim lately that yesterday I found the letters and sat down next to the window to reread them. My first thought was to transcribe Massimo’s beautiful thoughts and fix the English but … you know … they’re perfect just the way they are. At least to me.

Here’s the first one, exactly as written. If you like it, I’ll publish the second tomorrow.

Dear Jan,

Thank you for those few instants spent all together. With your smile you has been the AMERICAN DREAM of three young Italians so different for character but who represent the typical Italian today with his good qualities and his defects. I believe that one of positive points of progress is meet often persons of different countries. I believe especially among youngmen these meetings are formative. Our charge of enthusiasm, our love that is shift from religion to the humanity, let us exceed in speed the barriers of language and of custom of the world. The only obstacle remains the time that conditions us particularly. By custom we put off till tomorrow our moments of happiness, without realizing that we shall be able to have every day our slice of sweet. Lately I have read a Dale Carnegie book and I have found useful the advise to consider every day like a lemon to squeeze dry. But the day spends quick and often remains a little of juice to squeeze. When you were among us, it could not squeeze sufficiently. The opinions, the experiences, the feelings that could have blended, have remained in our mind. There, perhaps they will germinate overbearingly because they will be so as we think they are. The reality is always different, less romantic, but has always a fascination which draws us, lets us act. The action is infact the flag of a modern man. To operate, to enter into the world, to give the better part of us to others disinterestedly. That is very difficult, this is the way that about 2000 years ago had indicated us a J.Cr. and it is strewn with incomprehension.

Here at Worksop, in a fine day we have gone to Clumber Park, the nature surrounded, submerged us, reshuffled us, let us become more genuine, more human and I should have wanted to feel near me, also only to behold your eyes, and to see your smile as at Ostende the first time I met you. I write you as even if we have decided on coming to see in our travel to Italy I should like to receive your news here at Worksop to know like that you spend your time and which impressions have awakened for you these three Italian youngmen. Waiting your news with pleasure, I send you a spontaneous smile with the saluts of Albert who has tried to express in correct way these my words and of Andrei who after reading has begun to smile. Salut by all us also to Carolyn

29 thoughts on “Our slice of sweet

    1. I used to exchange long letters with a lot of people but not that many have survived. Funny because we probably only spent about five hours with the Massimo and his friends.

    1. If someone writes me a really beautiful email, I generally will copy it into word to enjoy again and again. One never knows about email. All things must pass as the saying goes.

  1. What a lovely letter. It reminds me of some of the times I’ve flown to India and ended up having long conversations with the person sitting next to me, from a totally different cultural background, discussing everything from politics to religion in an open and respectful way.

    And my first solo trip to Europe was clutching my copy of ‘Europe on ten dollars a day’.

  2. Wild. I believe I prefer his efforts to communicate emotion more than plain speaking. His feels more poetic, like one has to tease out the true meaning.
    I’ve kept nothing from my youth aside from a sweatshirt my father saved for no good reason, passing it on to me during some visit years ago.

    1. Yes, several of his phrases are inadvertently poetic. Supposedly his friend Alberto translated from the Italian into English. He was very shy – looked a lot like Art Garfunkle.

  3. Hi JT – I think it is so awesome that you have so many momentos from your past travels (and a picture would have been nice – but of well ) and the letter is fun – like that ” I have read a Dale Carnegie book and I have found useful the advise to consider every day like a lemon to squeeze dry.”

    Oh and glad you did not edit it because it was all culture rich and authentic this way 🙂

  4. What a wonderful letter and a beautiful memory, Jan! It’s definitely a letter to cherish and I thank you for sharing it. It reminds me of an almost entire year I spent in Europe between my junior and senior years in college, a very long time ago I must add. It was an incredible experience and I met so many interesting people. Europe on $10 a day was the book of choice then and the woman I was traveling with for a time and I live that. Hard to believe now.We stayed in hostels as well as in B&Bs which included such enormous breakfasts that we didn’t have to eat again till evening, and pensions when we got into southern Europe. I at one point started transcribing my journal entries onto my laptop, mortifying as some of them were, but stopped at some point for some reason. I think I may need to go back and start again.


    1. Thanks Janet. We rarely kept with the $5 a day plan but I do remember many times getting a breakfast that would last us the whole day. Generally in a B&B out in farm country. I hope you do get a chance to transcript your journal notes. I think we all have embarrassing travel stories!

  5. I was sentimental like you once, holding onto everything -every single napkin, ticket, flower…I no longer am. I don’t even take so many photos like before. I just try to enjoy the moment because when I turn my back, it will all be in my head anyway.

    1. Oh there are many many letters I wish I held, especially now that the writers of those letters have passed. Massimo’s letters I stored in a cigar box with other things from that time and somehow that box survived many moves.

      1. A friend told me the same, which now makes two of you. I don’t know why, really. You’re a follower. What sometimes works for her is unfollowing me and then going on to follow me again. If it doesn’t work, I could unfollow you here, so you ask me to grant you access again. And make sure you delete cookies or open my site in a new window or even use chrome (advice from Help). Let me know if any of these worked.

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