Another story embellishes the column short stories about my scarves, written by writers who love what I do.
Denise Vacca was born and lives in Sardinia. She is an oncologist, and 14 years ago undertook (at first by chance, then by firm conviction) a specific path of passionate study, daily clinical practice and important work on herself, approaching “palliative medicine”.
She is one of the founders and President of the association ” Società dei sogni“.
Leaving the small auditorium of the old cinema, Grace reflected on the evening’s events. She had seen a film shot some ten years before by a French director. It had been followed by a discussion of the meaning of the film (or perhaps more of what had been attributed to it by the self-styled critics): “The heroine had ruined generations of girls who had begun observing the world with their noses in the air, and bla bla bla…”
Grace, on an upholstered amaranth-coloured seat, had had to control herself so as not to get into the debate. She had decided to go to see the film alone because she had wanted to better appreciate it, even though it was the third time she had seen it. She thought that the discussion afterwards would give her a better understanding of the heroine, and also of the director, the screenwriter and all the others who had produced the film. She couldn’t help it. The undercurrents of her life could not continue without a constant searching, an attempt at introspection of others.
“Our critical capacity must guide us,” she argued, “to an understanding as deep as possible (which doesn’t mean justifying everything and everybody, at all times and in any case).”
In reality, the need to intimately approach the other, with sensitivity and empathy, was an operation she needed to understand herself more deeply.
Alas, more than once this behaviour had led to interpretations different from what she intended, and that is where the walls were erected. But in any event, she would never be able to get along without the enrichment that came from relationships. She had once read that people’s relationships are like the colliding of billiard balls: from that time on, the direction of the balls would be different, so after meeting another person no one would ever be the same!
The discussion after the film greatly disappointed her expectations. She had her own ideas in support of the value and essence of Amélie, the heroine of the film, but she didn’t feel like defending them in there. Her hands were clutching the scarf across her legs and the sensation of lightness of that fabric calmed her.
That ‘drape‘ was a unique creation by an artist she had discovered by chance thanks to a common acquaintance. Grace was not attracted by famous signatures appearing on clothing and accessories. She loved the quality of the fabrics, the skill of the maker, the originality and sober elegance. Her passion for those scarfs was a consequence, for her a kind of Linus’ blanket. And that evening she was wearing one with Amélie’s face on it.
The ideological positions of the debaters seemed to Grace a sort of strained reverse anti conformism. And she was somewhat deceived. Her vital statistics placed her at over forty, but many more for the burden of her chaotic experiences of life.
Grace considered herself neither unique nor special. She adhered to the world with the concreteness of a surgeon incising skin to remove a piece of diseased intestine. She wanted to be able to take a running jump so as to observe the world from on high, flying over existential ruins that caused wounds… “The girl with her feet on the ground and her head in the clouds“, that was her definition of herself.
Her irrational logic had helped her to cope with those moments of disheartening solitude, not because she was afraid of being alone, but owing to a utopian vision: if you were still content with six years in your own company, you can’t allow yourself to succeed in staying “alone with someone else“. With this thought, she spontaneously protected her face from jaw to nose with the scarf.
Fluctuating between these two thoughts, Grace had left the cinema and fallen once again into the tangle of string that was the town at evening’s end, with cars honking their horns as drivers were hurrying back home.
She found herself, without even realizing she had walked so far, at the small Petit coin de rêves dock, as it was called for the view of its entrance seen from the centre of the city. Her summer sandals marked the time of her steps along the wooden walkway where the boats were tied up.
She held the scarf tightly around her to protect herself, and maybe also Amélie, who that evening accused of being the emblem of emptiness and existential solitude, of living by stereotypes and detached from reality.
But Grace didn’t read this into it. The heroine too probably lived from now and again in that ‘space-time’ of the soul, and hers was merely a mode, something she could use when she paused to observe life in its every detail, defending herself from the mass mindset of overlooking detail. She jumped when from one of the boats came a “Hey! What a beautiful scarf, isn’t that Amélie?”
The voice was that of a woman with a clean, sweet face, knowledgeable and determined, with a white of her hair that surely Grace would have wanted had she not begun to dye it. On the woman’s lips was a discreet cherry-coloured lipstick, soberly elegant.
She managed to answer with an embarrassed ‘thank you‘, which coincided with the end of the walkway and her reflections on what had taken place that evening in the small auditorium.
She was sure of her opinions and the meeting with the woman who had recognized Amélie on her large, light scarf had reassured her that it was possible to observe more than there was to see.
Because when all is said and done, life, like a book, a film, is created by those who live it, interpret it as the protagonist, as one who observes it from the outside.