Love Thursday: William’s Orgasmic View Lives On

Everything's brighter after the rain on FlickrWilliam the Englishman (or l’Inglese as he was called in the village) had a house in Badolato with an “orgasmic view” of the Ionian Sea, as he called it. He came to stay here every year from April to October.

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During the early years (we both arrived in the village around 2003), we were the only two English speakers, so we’d meet for cappuccino in the piazza before William took the bus down to the beach. Along the way he’d stop to chat with just about everyone, trying out his ever-improving Italian, helped by the years he had spent as a bar owner in Spain.

William always joked that everyone knew him, but he most certainly didn’t know everyone. The young children on the bus especially enjoyed him as they relished the chance to practice their school-learned English.

I always felt like a surrogate daughter for William, whose own precious girl was about my age back in London. When William’s house needed “a woman’s touch” as he put it, I helped him pick out dishes and other little accents. Every couple weeks, I’d set up his cell phone ring tones, phonebook, and other settings he’d somehow managed to change. Paolo and I even had him over for a very impromptu Easter dinner one year.

William called me “the Unamerican American” because I had what he considered a rare curiosity about the world and desire to live abroad–Unamerican for an American, according to William. And he never did quite understand how I was able to work via Internet in this mountaintop village and actually make a living; I must have tried to explain it a hundred times.

Lest you think he was anti-American, though, William always rang me on Thanksgiving and was always sure to pay for my cappuccino on the 4th of July.

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Soon after William bought his house here in Badolato, he was the victim of a hit-and-run back in London, and although he survived, he did so just barely. He suddenly had a long physical and emotional road to recovery ahead of him–not made any easier by all the steep hills and steps in Badolato.

And so, William considered selling his beloved casa with its “orgasmic view,” but I got the feeling that was never going to happen. He just loved his piccolo paradiso (little paradise), as he called it, too much.

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In 2008, William died in a house fire in his flat in London. Paolo had gotten word when I was away on a trip, but he waited until I got back to tell me.

At that moment, on my balcony looking out at that same orgasmic view of the Ionian (my house was on the same side of the mountain as William’s, only higher up), all the memories of William came flooding back, bringing mostly smiles and, admittedly, also quite a few tears.

Then came an overwhelming sadness with the realization that not only would we never have cappuccino again, but also our connection was completely gone. Even though I had heard many stories about William’s family back in England, I had no contact information for anyone in his English life.

But then one day a few months ago, I opened up my email and saw what I knew to be his daughter’s name in my inbox. She had found me through this blog, not even realizing that I knew her father, only that I was an English speaker who lived in this mysterious medieval village that William had loved so much.

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I met William’s daughter in person last week for the first time when she and her fiancé came to Badolato. She looks so much like her father and has precisely the same English sense of humor, or “humour” I suppose.

I know she was pleased to find out how many people enjoyed the company of l’Inglese, and that he didn’t simply come here to live as a hermit. I introduced her to quite of few of William’s acquaintances, each one saying he was “bravo” or “un grande amico” or something similar.

After initial thoughts of selling the house, she and her family have decided to keep it, rent it out, and otherwise offer it as a place of refuge from the real world for family and friends–much as her father used it when he was alive.

And I like to think that somewhere, William is smiling. His orgasmic view has been passed on to a new generation–and so have some of his friendships.

For William, “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton,
the man he called his “God”:

Happy Love Thursday everyone.

22 Beans of Wisdom to “Love Thursday: William’s Orgasmic View Lives On”
  1. 07.02.2009

    I had tears in my eyes too when I read your story of your amigo! I’m sniffling as I write this.
    What a lovely tribute.

    Thanks Lucy :)

    .-= lucy´s last blog .. =-.

  2. 07.02.2009

    What a beautiful post for Love Thursday. It brought tears to my eyes.
    Happy Love Thursday!! xoxo

    Thanks LuLu :)

    .-= LuLu´s last blog ..Happy Canada Day! =-.

  3. 07.02.2009

    What a wonderful story. I am so glad you were able to meet William’s daughter :)

    Thanks! Me too :)

    .-= City Girl´s last blog ..Poached Fish and Scallops in a Coconut-Coriander Sauce =-.

  4. That’s beautiful, Michelle. A moving tribute. Ti ringrazio di tutto cuore…

    Grazie a te :)

    .-= paul from the clue-by-four´s last blog ..cluesday June 23, 2009: who Ned? was… and why you should care =-.

  5. anne
    07.02.2009

    A wonderful tribute..to a lovely man…so sad as well..as to what happened to William.

    How amazing for you that his daughter found you through his blog.!!, and so
    fantastic that she and fiance came over to meet you..you are going to a have a wonderful new friendship:-)

    I sure hope so, Anne; they are both really lovely :)

  6. This was touching, Michelle.
    PS-Happy 4th to you!

    Thanks Susan; also to you :)

  7. 07.02.2009

    What a lovely story! Beautifully told Michelle. So sad that he couldn’t spend more time there but how sweet that it will be passed down to future generations. Thank you for sharing.

    Thanks Rosemary! I know he’d be so happy to know that his family will now enjoy the house.

  8. 07.02.2009

    What a lovely tribute to a man who was clearly full of love for Badolato and your corner of the world (and for you and Paolo)!

    I’m so glad you’ll have at least a tiny part of that connection retained through the next generation.

    Oh William loved to tell the story of how he found Badolato too…at a wedding in Colombia! Talk about destiny, you know? ;)

    .-= jen of a2eatwrite´s last blog ..What’s Cooking Wednesday: Spaghetti-os for Grown-ups: An Uber-Frugal Farmers Market Dinner =-.

  9. 07.02.2009

    what an amazingly gorgeous story. what a beautiful friend William had (and now his daughter has) in you. we should all be so lucky!

    (would it be tacky to say now that I know where Guy and I can stay when we visit?) :)

    Not at all! His daughter will be overjoyed at the news of some renters :)

  10. 07.02.2009

    You made me cry. How very wonderful and sweet to share your memories of him with us, we are all blessed for it. I could almost see him, going along through the village with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye.
    Happy 4th of July, Michelle. Here’s a cappucino for you.

    *MUAH*

    Scarlett & Viaggiatore

    Grazie! Thank you for reading, and enjoy your 4th!

  11. 07.03.2009

    VERY nice story. I am happy for you.

    Thanks, Judith. It was nice to finally write something about William–he would’ve been baffled by the fact that people are over the world are reading about him!

  12. Gil
    07.03.2009

    One of the nicest tributes that I’ve ever seen from friend to friend. The poor man had such a tragic end to his life.

    Thanks, Gil. Very tragic indeed :(

  13. Beautiful tribute to your friend.

    Grazie :)

    .-= nyc/caribbean ragazza´s last blog ..Flashback Friday – (on Thursday, Forth of July edition) – James Brown – “Living in America” =-.

  14. 07.03.2009

    What a great tribute to William and so nice to know that his daughter contacted you.

    Thanks Mary; it was definitely a nice surprise for me :)

    .-= Mary´s last blog ..Scorpione! =-.

  15. 07.03.2009

    What a lovely tribute.

    Thank you, Nicole.

    .-= Nicole´s last blog ..In Bloom: Raspberries =-.

  16. 07.04.2009

    What a beautiful post, and what a lovely tribute to your friend.

    Thanks, bonggamom.

    .-= bonggamom´s last blog ..A Boy and His Tati — an Update =-.

  17. 07.04.2009

    Michelle – I’m so sorry you lost your friend, it sounds like he had a tremendous spirit. How fabulous that you’ve met his daughter an her family. A new family tree planted in your beautiful little paradise!

    Indeed! Thanks Kathy :)

  18. adf
    07.04.2009

    This was just beautiful!! R.I.P., William

    Thanks, adf.

    .-= adf´s last blog ..Don’t even get me started. =-.

  19. I had tears in my eyes after reading this. What a lovely tribute.

    Thank you.

    .-= Wandering Chopsticks´s last blog ..Char Siu/Xa Xiu (Chinese Barbecued Pork) =-.

  20. 07.04.2009

    Michelle-what a beautiful story-Have a wonderful 4th. It is funny how people touch our lives. I was in an Italian deli recently in Ottawa-and thinking of you -I found and bought a jar of Nutella from Italy. Not sure why-but you came to mind as I was strolling the aisles.

    xo E

    Hee hee, I’m honored!

    .-= Esme´s last blog ..Book Giveaway for Frommer’s 500 Places for Food and Wine Lovers =-.

  21. What a lovely post; it’s wonderful that his daughter was able to find you, especially because she didn’t know you’d known her father. Speaking as someone who has lost a parent, I can tell you that one of the most precious things is to hear stories of that person after they’re gone – it’s like they’re still around. Memories and stories like that are really the only kind of immortality any of us can hope for, so it’s really nice that you’ve been able to contribute a little of that to William’s daughter.

    I know I always love hearing memories of people I’ve lost, so it’s a pleasure to share my memories of others’ loved ones :)

  22. 07.06.2009

    lovely story! What a nice read.

    Thanks for coming by :)
    .-= Madeline´s last blog ..A Guide to Deciding Which Museums to Visit in Italy =-.


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