In the last 24 hours, I have tied off every last loose end. Plane tickets are bought and paid for. I’ve got confirmation of my living stipend and registration date at the University of Haifa. I bought a pair of work gloves for my three weeks in Tuscany, where I’ve arranged my stay with an organic teaching farm. Winter work is with the animals- horses, cows, sheep, pigs, chickens and ducks. I’ll be herding, milking, cleaning, brushing, feeding and, like the punchline to a really good joke, butchering all of the above. I’ll have Christmas in Italy. I’ll visit Dan in Dublin. Money will leak from my deflating bank account like ink from a dead squid.
Matt went home. His visit was as memorable and uneventful as always. Like a two- day fugue we recycled the same stories and conversations, bigger and wilder and more fallacious each time, until our sides hurt from laughing in crescendos of inanity. He gave me a book as a present, one I’ve never heard of but will enjoy reading, which is the best type of present. There was a rye epigram penned onto the jacket. Matt is getting emotional in his old age. He’s the first person I’ve had to say goodbye to. I don’t mind. Better to start now.