I am quite overcome by a report from WordPress that most of my followers are in Brazil. Are you members of the American/British overseas community? But of course you are, now using the Internet, as I did not back then, to increase your range. This fills me with saudade. I too was busy as one of you, deep into the American The Little Theater and hobnobbing with the British Players in Rio de Janeiro. I sang in recitals, sold Italian jewelry at home, ate marvelous meals at our favorite churrascaria at Posto 6. The only activity lacking was research resources for writing. There was only the IBEU — Istituto Brasil Estado Unidos — which offered a mixed bag of reading material that tried its best to entertain hopeful readers but was too erratic to be much help to my writing ambitions.
I found a private library, however, owned by a British lady named Faith Motley, who became my friend. Through her I more or less kept up with what was being published in the world. But still nothing in the way of research.
How is our old street, Epitacio Pessoa in Ipanema? I even miss the annual fish die-off in the Lagoa Rodrigo Freitas in front of our home. And the neighborhood of Leblon? Next best known to me was Curitiba in Paranå, a town where the winters in September froze my nose off. Renato and I had Toto there, a mutt that came with our rented house. I wrote stories about him afterward. What a boulevardier he was! A one-eyed gentleman who belonged to everyone in the neighborhood.
And now, Italy. I departed in 1956 and returned twice, 1989 and 2001, feeling more and more strange each time. I wasn’t poor anymore, and the men didn’t accost me in the streets murmuring words purporting to do something to me. Being old sometimes has its benefits, although I did miss the complimentary comments. I was with Renato the second time in 1989, and with friends the last time. But I told Renato everything about the trip when I came home to California. He is here, his spirit contacting me every day and every night. He flashes the light dimmer, sends my adult pussycat Loaner to cuddle me in the middle of the night, shifts the lights over the dining table (see “The Promise” at my website http://www.authorsden.com/lucillebellucci), plays with the garage door when I am attempting to close it. On Christmas day he kept stopping and returning it upward five or six times. I know what he was saying: Drive carefully, I love you, give everyone my love. I did relay his message to my nephew and family and they were pleased. They would have thought of me as their nutty Aunt Lucy had they not seen Renato in a restaurant near their table. The whole family remarked on it, and then he was gone from sight.
Happy New Year, everyone!