I was going through some of my research materials for RESPITE, when I found a letter from one of the main characters, Madeline Raburn, who is travelling in Europe, to her mother back in New York City. Surprising what this young lady had to say.
I am writing this on the train to Gibraltar. I have always wanted to see that huge chunk of rock and practice my Spanish, so I hope you don't mind me taking a few more weeks before returning to New York. Whatever I miss this semester at school, I will take double the credits and ace the classes next semester --- promise!
Rome was absolutely beautiful! Everything you said it would be and more! I particularly liked the personal tour of St Peter's in the Vatican that grand-dad set up for me. Unfortunately, the solemness and religious impact of the visit was marred by Mario and Vito's incessant loud chatting during the tour. I was SO embarrassed when the kindly old Father asked them to step outside. Thankfully, the remainder of the tour...without them was lovely and educational. I understand needing to have chaperones, but at times the two of them are either completely clueless or overbearing. Mario especially - I don't like how he looks at me sometimes, you know, in a kind of leering way.
People in Rome were nice, a bit preoccupied however. I don't know if it's because they're still shocked from the War or if it's an inherent preoccupation. Some of them seemed very sad, while others seemed not to care that their country is still somewhat in ruins and transition. Those I spoke with, well, their faces just lit up when they realized I was American. They were shocked, however, that I would travel there, after all that has happened there, especially in the recent past.
The food was wonderful - like an afternoon at gramma's. Her sauce is SO much better, however!
I'm sorry to say things will not be working out between Giacomo and me. He speaks very little English and even with my acceptable Italian there was a great divide when it came to communication. Don't get me wrong, Mama, he is very nice, I'm sure grandpa checked him and his family out well - I don't mean to disappoint, but he's not my type for husband material. Please tell Papa I'm sorry. I hope this doesn't reflect poorly on his business and connections in Italy.
I know you know this, but how do I get it through to Daddy and Papa that I don't want to get married right now? I want to finish school, get more of a degree. I love languages and want to be able to speak them all well. That means speaking them in the country in which they are spoken - I can't expect to do that if I'm a homebody with children. No disrespect, Mama, but you know I have more of a worldly curiosity than you. And, although you have discovered the world since marrying Daddy and having children, I want to do that NOW, not when I'm forty or older. I love you, Mommy, please don't think I think of you have wasted time in your life. The world is so different now, and I want to see it ALL before something else, like another war, happens.
The countryside is so beautiful here in a rugged way. The accommodations on the train are very nice and per your instructions, I am not scrimping on the cost of berths etc. You and Daddy will not need to get me a college graduation present - THIS trip seems to be it. Don't know a final destination or timetable for returning home, but as soon as I know, I will wire you the details.
You know it's only NINE miles across the Straits of Gibraltar to Africa? Who knows where I'll end up next week!
Love you, Mama - kisses to you and Daddy.