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“If they won’t follow me, I’ll tell Gainesville them: ‘My bags are packed. Whoever wants to can join me, but I’m going back’.” His mother cautioned him: “Think about it, what would you do here?” The misgivings Gainesville she had felt when he left had turned into a foreboding and concern for his return. In her heart, Aunt Nuzza had been praying for his return, but didn’t really Gainesville believe in it; she had seen so many people leave and never return. And what would his wife and son who were born in another country Gainesville and spoke a different language do? And how could Gio even think of translating?

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“This time I’m coming back for good, dear cousin. I’m coming back. Forever. With my wife it’s over. We don’t get along anymore. We don’t understand each other. It’s not a question of words, but one of languages: we no longer agree on values, our characters are different. I’ll tell my son to come with me. He may not want to, but over time he’ll understand. I don’t know what he’ll do. She’ll always be his mother.

“I’ll be back, cousin, I’ll set up a mechanics shop. So many people ask me: ‘When are you coming back?’ At first I thought that I would work so many years in France, put aside some money and then come back to the village to open a large shop, with a car wash, and body shop and lubrication facilities. Mastro Pino and my apprentices would come to work with me. Twenty years later. As you can see they have good memories of me. I’m sorry to leave France. It’s been good to me, giving me my daily bread and much more, friends, my life, and houses I was able to buy. No matter, my lawyer will look after my affairs.

“At first I didn’t understand a word of French, but fortunately I ended up working with people I could trust. Now, the only person who no longer has my confidence is the mother of my son. She looks only after her own affairs; I don’t even know what she’s planning but I think she’s after the bar we opened and the houses we bought. All that I built belongs to Michel.

“I’ll return, cousin. I’ll make my poor sick mother happy. She’s had such a sad life. And I’ll make my sister and my brother happy as well. I’ll build a brand new modern bar, and will fill it with customers just like the times of grandfather Peppe and my father’s wine cellar—do you remember, cousin? All those blaspheming drunks, all the students who started drinking in that cantina! At the time there was great shame in this, but eventually more students than tradesmen and labourers became regulars.

“I’m not so sure it was a good idea to turn the cantina into a bar, but the time has come to fix it. I’ll join in, cousin, and will feast my eyes on the girl I once loved when she walks by, the beautiful Maria, who never gave a damn about me. She came with you and your group, and I looked on, with envy, sometimes after a drink or two, I wanted to come and give you a piece of my mind, but she was smiling, she was too beautiful, and never really paid any attention to me. Oh sure, she laughed at my jokes, found me amusing, but never took me seriously. When I left I did think for a while that if I came back with a lot of money, and wearing an elegant suit, she might notice me.

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