Monday, September 25, 2006

Simply ♥B

I talked with Bill on his 40th birthday for quite a few hours. I challenged his outlook. I pushed him…where are you going? Are you truly happy? He did the same for me. We always exchanged with each other once we cut through the thick tangles intertwining our everydayness and everypersoness --- my made up words were his favorite and he even managed to incorporate them into the literary world. He thanked me numerous times for these conversations. It seems we didn't and couldn’t have them often enough while we were together. We each protected whatever imaginary turf the other person seemed to be trampling on. I have pondered his words over the past few years and they shout at me now. He questioned more than he ever had before. He was much more compassionate. He was lost and searching, a trait he refused to show before. He hadn’t hit his full potential and I wanted that for him so desperately.

When we first collided into each other over fifteen years ago, we had much the same conversation...except our viewpoints have met more towards the middle these past few years. You see, Bill was Spock. And yes, he looked dashing in blue. I was the “AIE”, as he pegged me (aristocrat in exile). Bill had never heard of enneagrams and on our first date we profiled each other while hanging out at the Stud. He was a “justice seeker”. This trait flowed through him like blood and breath.

Bill was my atomic romantic, writing searing prose that soothed.
Bill lived in a state of subdued chaos although outsiders saw rigidity; I needed the rigidity and he needed my softness.
Bill was the host of every party we attended. Mr. Lampshade.
Bill was generous not to a fault.
Bill was a lousy driver.
Bill saved my life (literally) twice. And he acknowledged he needed saving last January.
Bill loved his family – the tribe – he protected his sisters, honored his mother, and revered his father.
Bill was too hard on himself. He said he couldn’t be any different on July 22, 2006. He knew if he could have been more loving to himself, he could have all those things he thought he didn’t deserve, including me.
Bill will always be the chiming bells of Cagli.
Bill did laundry like a yogi.
Bill never got arrested while jumping on those police cars in North Beach!
Bill looked great on television.
Bill loved so many and most never saw the signs.
Bill changed me or the better…it wasn’t simple being married to him, but I am not simple either.

Bill was the most intellectual intellect. When he worked at The SF Weekly doing film review (not critique as he would say) most would approach me asking what the hell did he mean, etc…even for the review of Stakeout 2 with the infamous cat’s ass cam…others would ask did he like it and what the hell did he mean. I think I asked Andrew if we could include a Joey Translation, stating either yes or no at the end, but those two were thick as thieves when it came to brain humping--not many could play Bill’s game--so, it was left as is. And I am thankful.

The day he died, prior to me knowing of his death, I went to dinner in my new neighborhood, Queens, NY. I had just moved a week earlier and hadn’t been to a restaurant yet. As I sat down, “The Girl from Ipanema” started to play in the restaurant. I hadn’t heard our song in months. I walked down the aisle to that song on our wedding day…I will never see anything but Bill’s shining eyes and quirky smile under the most beautiful oak tree whenever I hear that song. I explained to my boyfriend why I was wistful…you see, Bill and I were going to move to New York, we were supposed to do exactly what I was doing. Now, I see he was saying goodbye.

I can hear Bill’s laughter now like a sweet echo. I thought he was hilarious and he thought I was funny, so much so, that he would stealthily say my jokes over me and get more chuckles from those around us. It was a game to us. I spent the first ten hours with him holding my cheeks from sheer pain. Laughter…why didn’t I record just one of his hilarious rants?

He told me he would never get married again. He told me he would never have children. He asked me to get on a plane and come to be with him. I thought he was being the dramatic one…this was just a few days before he died.

I see a striking pattern when I read what you have to say. Yes, he was so alive that he should have been the spokesperson for JOLT cola when it came out – inside joke. He was so passionate about right and wrong —not his version but the version that mattered. He was so present with everyone around him, including Barbara, the Fried, Dyed and Laid to One Side homeless woman in North Beach.

In the ten years we were married (five in North Beach and five trying to figure out how to split), we loved, fought, played, struggled, laughed, cried, tried, prayed, grew and the end hasn’t happened yet.

I read all that you write, I hear your words, I hug your sorrow, and yet I still feel the same. I am envious of his bosses (yes, the magazines were his mistresses and sometimes his fulltime family), I relate to his peers for I know their admiration and sheer frustration. And I can’t count the young up n comins asking me questions about Bill. I am sure the women he loved know of the effervescent joy he gave. As for his family and lifelong friends, you are lucky like me.

My heart still shakes as I type and his words “I am so proud of you” are my lullaby at night. He was and will always be my husband.

Not a week before he died he told me what I meant to him and he stressed the forever part. Bill had a knack for timing and always seemed to make that deadline.

First Lady of Your ♥,
Joey White

Sunday, September 24, 2006

“Guglielmo [William] da Baskerville”

What I’ve read about William O. is confirming the great person he was. To spend some time with him was one of my best moments in my life. Unfortunately, I could not share with him a lot of time as all of you did since I was in Italy, but I could understand his extraordinary figure being in touch for 3 years… Our email-friendship was wonderful.

I met William O. in 2001. I was at Vini D’Italia, my uncle’s little restaurant, where only few hour before I was arrived from Italy, my vacation…Bill was there, in one of the little table, alone, reading a book. I was on the other side of the room, trying to pronounce the word “otter”, that was difficult for my Italian accent and I didn’t pay attention about him as long as I felt like someone was there spying on me. My eyes went directly on the only guest that was there and they were captured by the eyes of the “man in black” (How I used to call him). He smiled and already I understood how special he was. The time passed and I was helping my uncle serving at the tables. And like a Swiss clock on Wednesday and Saturday, Bill was there, waiting to eat Italian food. No words between us, but only big smiles and bright eyes. Since, one day, he asked my name. Very very shy I said my name and I left. That was the way to become friends. He was all the time very patient with me and he tried to help me with my English, he asked me about everything, my Italian town, my culture and my real job. “I’m a researcher” I said, “I work with gerbils”, and he was also interested in that field. Amazing! Never I saw someone with more desire to learn something. Was the end of my vacation and I had to leave. I was so sorry I didn’t have too many possibility to share more time with him. Was Saturday and I was leaving the next Thursday. “I have to tell you goodbye, dear Maria Vittoria. I have to work on Wednesday so I will be not here as usual…but, maybe…I can try to get here, only to see you for the last time”. We were almost closing the door of the restaurant when the “man in black” arrived running…he came…for me (smiling). We took a couple of pictures and he gave me his card. When I was in Italy I sent him an email, and that was the beginning of our email friendship. Every, every night, as he said, “with the vacuum lullaby”, before leaving his office he was writing me something. I could know all his family, that he loved so much, and his friends, without knowing them [“Back here by the Bay, my dad picked me up at the airport then I spent Mother's Day evening with my folks and sisters and brother-in-law (Cathy's husband) and boyfriend (Aimee's) and niece and nephew (who
I tossed around happily even though I have a cracked rib)”]. He was writing in a very strange way for me at the beginning, but later on I realized that…he was William O. Goggins. Everything was with a code. Every word was smart, funny and well putted [“Take your time. And don't take any baloney. (Note: "baloney"means nonsense, aka bullshit, and is also the American word for Bologna sausage.)” speaking about my new boyfriend from Bologna]. He got the bullseye all the time!

Never I thought I could meet him again, but I had the luck to come for 6 months in the USA to work. So, we decided to meet each other again. I traveled to SF and I was with him for 10 days…the all day. Not only he was like I imagined him from the letters, he was also better!! His soul was full of life, he was curious, very polite, well organized and more all over… crazy! He liked to say: PAZZO, the Italian translation. And he the hilarious way. I remember him jumping from the street and swinging on the roof of a gas station. I remember him throwing a little paper bag (from a Starbucks) on the back of the shuttle only because there was no any place where to put it, or throwing the ball playing Petanque in the most absurd place. I saw him with very different kind of people and with all of them he was able to make himself comfortable, speaking about something very serious or something very stupid, he was like a chameleon. One of his days was like 3 of mine going here and there and he had also time for a nap (wink). Absolutely…extraordinary. He was my teacher (“Guglielmo [William] da Baskerville”)…with him I have learnt something that is still deep in my soul…I have learnt how to love the life!!! And, he was only leading me, trying to let me thinking about the right answer. Incredible...sometimes he was too clever for me!

And…at the end of the day… it was our little quiet time speaking about ourselves. Sometimes listening to the music or trying to watch a movie before falling to sleep. Poor William…he was sleeping on the floor to leave me to be very comfortable in his bed. Who is that person that without knowing his guest goes to the airport to pick her up, organizes every second to make fun and sleeps on the floor. Only a “knight”, other name I gave him. In our emails we were speaking about dragon, princess and knight too, my writing fantasy improved, and more importantly… my reality too.
I’m going to stop now, I could write hundreds of unforgettable moments I had in only 10 days with him… But what I wrote I guess is enough to describe his gigantic enthusiasm to live the life and to fill your life of love and energy [“Hope the world's putting a smile on your face, too, sweetheart.

All of us will miss you a lot. Forever with us,
Maria Vittoria