You drove like a thing possessed and terrified me. You were loud and confusing and incomprehensible. I felt lonely and out of place and you noticed. You brought me food when I was too overwhelmed to cook, and when I would sigh and say I understood nothing, you simply smiled and made me an espresso. I fell for you.
You invited me to incredible parties and kept me up half the night with your laughter and music and fireworks. You showed me where to find the best food I've ever had and introduced me to your whole family. Some days I woke up in disbelief I was lucky enough to have you in my life.
You're unreliable. I go days or even weeks without talking to my family because your power's turned off. I take my kids to the gym to shower and bitterly regret meeting you when there's no hot water for days on end. You don't take care of yourself and I look at you covered in your own filth and I'm disgusted. Some nights I want to scream at you for being so careless with something so beautiful as yourself.
...and you *are* beautiful. My god, you are beautiful. I've never seen your equal... and just when I think I can't do this anymore, you surprise and delight me. A weekend in a Tuscan vineyard... playing checkers with the retired men in the town square... tiling your parents' roof for them in your dress shirt... styling your hair and wearing cologne to take your nonna to church... you melt me.
Your secrets begin to come out. Your dark past that you tried to hide. The repercussions that will echo for generations as kids become weak and sick and die because of your greed. I can't reconcile the terrifying rumors with the the splendor I've come to love. I thought it couldn't be true. Yet there are the police barricades... the bulldozers... the protests... You started showing up in the local papers, then on websites in Britain, and now your crimes have made it all the way to New York papers.
Napoli... my gorgeous, wild, charming Napoli... what have you done? I look at my kids in horror wondering how much you've hurt them. I awake from nightmares of my girls pale and emaciated, dying from your poisoned fruit and water. I question how much of it is my fault for staying with you as long as I have. The panic rises until I can literally see my heart beating in my chest as if frantically trying to leap away from these thoughts. I fall back asleep resolved to leave you.
...then morning comes bringing radiant sunrises and the smell of bread and pastries and espresso. I get my kids ready for school and as we leave the house you smile and wave and toss us chocolates from your balcony. So I drive to school with tears pricking my eyes and my heart breaking just a little bit more.
Pretty soon we will leave, and that is for the best. We will love you always.
I know most of you are far away and don't have a strong grasp on where we fit into all of this. When you read 'Casal di Principe' that's where the Casalesi clan is from and where we live.
4.1 kilometers from our house to a confirmed dump site.
2.7 kilometers from our house to the location where the New York Times photo was taken