Half Empty - Jul 8, 2005

By Ariel Leve.

The Italian holiday is winding down and we are both having separation anxiety. Liza is preparing to say goodbye to Alfonso, her Italian boyfriend, and I'm preparing to say goodbye to Roberto, the local pharmacist.

As if being covered in mosquito bites all over by my body wasn't uncomfortable enough, I've developed a mysterious allergic reaction to one on my eyelid. Roberto the pharmacist told me he'd never seen anything like it. Of course he hadn't.

It was the only available place left to bite. Now every night, I go to bed with socks on my hands and feet, long sleeves and pyjamas, cotton in my ears and a scarf around my neck. Women in burkas are showing more skin.

Everyone tells me it's because my blood is "sweet." It figures. The only thing about me that's sweet attracts disease-carrying insects.

Liza, meanwhile, sleeps naked. She doesn't have a bite on her body. Except the ones from "Fonzie".

She's been looking for a gift for his mother who has been making home-cooked lunches for her every day. I suggested one of my citronella candles. Nothing says thank you like bug repellant. She decided on flowers.

Maybe I'm just not a holiday person. There are people who enjoy being out of their routine. Like Liza. She's been to Positano, Scala, Capri and Vietri to buy pottery. I've been to the post-office, the internet cafe and the tourism office to collect a fax. Essentially, I've recreated the same life I have in New York. The only difference is here, I'm covered in hydrocortisone.

I guess it's because holidays are about doing nothing, and the problem is, I always feel like I'm doing nothing. So is it that I feel I don't deserve a holiday? No. I feel I deserve it; I just can't enjoy it. I'm much too conscious of having to get back to all the nothing I'm not doing at home.

Every day of my life I do things to stave off the feeing of not doing enough and so when a holiday arrives it's like sleeping naked: some people can endure it without a care in the world; others, like me, in spite of best efforts, get bitten on the eyelid.