Travelling and Writing in Stresa, Italy. (This is How Stories are Made.)

One afternoon we were chatting…

Me- We should come here, to Stresa -Italy- together, one summer.
Pretend we are old world female writers, fighting against the chauvinistic world of literature and spend hours sitting on our balcony (facing the lake ideally) clacking away on our computers (only because typewriters would be too loud, and disturb other guests.)
And then go for long walks along the lake promenade
Have picnics at the islands-  in the gardens on Isola Madre would be our secret spot ( a secluded bit of sunlight we never share with humans, but occasionally share with the exotic birds that roam free), where we sunbathe topless and sometimes tease the passing boater with peeks.
And spend a month or two just doing that

Nam: Ahhh… you’re nuts.
I think we could be writing on notebooks
I always write poetry on loose paper with pencil
And then we’d sit and sip tea..
Or water..
We’d observe young men and laugh..

Me: Definitely tea
With lemon
And we would wear big hats
And tiny shorts
And we would be terribly tan. You would turn a strawberry red, and i, a dark chocolate brown. Our sun-kissed skin and laugh lines would tantalize the elderly aristocrats who come  to the lake with their large prudish wives, and will wink at us, devilishly, at every given opportunity.

Nam: Ahhahahaaa
People will think we’re this wealthy lesbian couple..
Transforming the frontiers of gender and literature.

(Nam went to sleep right after this chat. I’m sure she would correct a few things and add her own magic to it.)

Me: We would be young and dazzeling… and yet beautifully tragic.

I would playfully flirt with the waiters, who would feel faint by my smile, and you would almost insolently (toss your long gorgeous curls in their direction and) ignore the advances of their friends who buy us drinks in hope of getting us to make out with each other.

Sometimes we would suffer from writers block and find the oldest, sweetest  taxi driver in the town, and make him take us up North to the  Swiss Alps (Jungfrau in the Bernese Oberlands, or somewhere more commercial like Zermatt via the Simplon Pass)  where Sexy Swiss Ski instructors would “unblock” our blocks, and teach us how to ski.. though we would spend more time in front of roaring fires, drinking hot toddy and  competing with each other on whose instructor is better in bed. Then we would go Paragliding, jumping off the cliffs fearlessly and depending on the instructors strapped to us to manage all the levers and landings, give into the feeling of falling.

Back in Stresa we would hire bikes and pack a few essentials and decide to bike around the entireity of Lago Maggiore. We would hone our broken Italian by staying only in places where we were certain the proprietors did not understand a speck of English. We would make particularly complex requests just to see what they bring us- and we would call it “adventure.” Getting only as far as Baveno, or Lesa we would be enamored by the Italian riviera feel, and end up spending days making friends with grungy English tourists, and pretend like we were terribly punk. This too wouldn’t last too long, as we would get tired of not showering and pretending like we hate everything.

On particularly warm, muggy summer nights when the moon is high, we would gather our Italian girlfriends and go skinny dipping on the secluded  little beaches. When the boys would come to spy, we would pretend not to notice, and stand in the moonlight, proud in our nakedness like pagan witches worshipping the Goddess.

Our days would run together until we forgot what month it is, and only knew the difference between weekday and weekend, by the choice of entertainment the town offers us each evening. When the food got too rich for us, we would become avid tennis players and volley back and forth till exhaustion every evening. The hotel would name a drink after us, the one we like to drink after our tennis- made of gin and cucumber, ginger and lemons. They would call it “the lankan.” Cool and refreshing, but with a bitingly tart and tinglingly spicey.

The swimming pool by the lake would be our refuge from stuffy guests at our hotel. We would put on a sign to show that it is closed, and bribe the staff to let us stay there after hours. When we feel bored by our endless funds and jobless existence, we would ask Rosario in the Spice shop to give us odd jobs. She would connect us with local businesses that would employ us at minimum Italian wage to cut vegetables for pickles, or help search for Truffles or Porcini mushrooms in the surrounding woodlands.

Or if we wanted to be intellectually stimulated we would find some loophole in the law (or a large hole in the pocket of the administrator) which would allow us to work as English guides at Isola Bella without a guiding license (patente.) We would learn the history of the Borromeo’s, the connection to the Visconti’s and the involvement of the Medici’s all the way in Tuscany to this part of Italy.  We would create our own opinions, and share in great humour the history of the Borromean Palace, the blue fruit dining set (Murano glass and Silver inlay) and try to catch peaks of the remaining Borromeans who come to stay at the existing quarters of the family on the island.

When the mist came down from the pre-alipine mountains, and Stresa is enveloped in gloom, we would head up to the rooftop bar of the restaurant. I would get my usual drink- a finger of Johnny Walker Gold over two cubes of ice, and you would get the bubbly fruity flavour of the month. We would breath in the cold wetness, and let the spirits warm us from the inside out. Flirting with the bartender, and admiring the beauty of the Old Catholic school lighted up on the mountains behind us; we would stay there until the dawn began to creep from the East. The islands would shimmer; the lights bouncing off the falling rain and creating an aura of gold.

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When the day would come for us to leave this beautiful place and head back to the harsh, electronic realities of our lives- we would find an excuse, a way to escape to our next destination. We would have written several “Great American Novels” and “Great Sri Lankan Novels”  by then, and would sell the manuscripts to the highest bidder so as to fund our next destination. We would examine and re examine our moods and decide on Zagreb or Prague, somewhere in the east where we could have the hard Slovak accents carry our minds away to cold harsh winters, and flavour our stories with tragedy and darkness, burning like vodka and absinthe in our chests.

We would make plans for Istanbul and Egypt, Zanzibar and set our sights on Brazil and Peru. Each place holding  our souls and shaping our imaginations.  Our stories would be world famous and be translated into 100 different languages. They would be famous for their stories, but more famous for our story.

The two maverick women writers who lived in the world and wrote of the world. But never belonged.

And so the stories would go…


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