*** ‘Vignette City’ is an ongoing project of daily writing and urban photography ***
My birthday was last week I and received a copy of Italo Calvino’s novel If on a winter’s night a traveler which I had started reading the morning after my birthday because the birthday dinner had not gone late which had only served to remind me that all of my friends are not so young any more, and so maybe I am not either.
I did not however have the book with me on the Streetcar two days later when I got on the A Loop near the college, headed toward the old Chinatown, which is when I saw a strikingly pretty young woman with curly jet-black hair wearing a gray wool skirt standing at one end of the car holding a pole with one hand while holding a book in the other hand. She was reading the Italo Calvino novel If on a winter’s night a traveler.
My feeling of excitement was immediately replaced by a deeper feeling of sadness -- or perhaps of instantaneous loss – when I realized that here I had this connection to a charmingly pretty complete stranger, yet I could in no way substantiate it. I could not prove our connection or birth that connection into that rain heavy gray morning only a few days after I’d completed another circuit around the sun. We - she and I - became an incomplete circuit. What good ever is a potential connection to another human being? What is the difference between an incomplete circuit and one which never existed?
She - the reader - got off at Morrison and I never saw her again and likely never will, given the size of the world.
Italo Calvino’s novel If on a winter’s night a traveler is a mishmash book made of chapters of several different books, none of which are ever completed or realized. In this way, The Reader and I probably did live out our relationship as fully as we could have.