But now as the dust is settling, and the rainy season has begun in San Francisco, my literary life has started showing signs of life once again. A few weeks ago I picked up “The Decameron” and started reading again. And surprisingly, I’m finding it more interesting than I did seven months ago when I dropped off the face of this planet known as the blogosphere. That’s not to say it’s fast going. I’ve been trying to read one story a day, a rate at which I won’t finish the thing for three months. But that's faster progress than I was making just staring at the TV with the remote in one hand and a bottle of gin in the other.
I’m not sure why I can better appreciate these stories now. When I stopped blogging my life was in full flux…I was subletting an apartment, and trying to figure out where to go with my life and my possessions, so that was pretty distracting. That could be part of the reason. “Winesburg, Ohio” was perfect for that moment in time, but "The Decameron" wasn't, so I just stopped reading. But now I've started again, and “The Decameron” has come into focus. I can appreciate the stories more as allegory, as simple storytelling…much like as a kid when I appreciated “The Arabian Nights”. And it also doesn't hurt that I’ve reached a section where the tales have gotten randier. The Decameron is laid out as 100 stories: ten stories told on each of ten days, with each day having a particular theme. Day three, where I am now, is all about stories where people by dint of their own efforts have achieved an object they greatly desired, or recovered a thing previously lost. And what did people at the beginning of the Renaissance greatly desire? Sex with hot people, regardless of whether the hotties are married, or nuns in a convent, or whatever. I guess after the bubonic plague, people had the attitude that “life is short, so let’s get in on”. Marvin Gaye would have made it big even back then. Woohoo, party in the Renaissance!
There was one story that seemed particularly relevant to me, at least to my mood at the moment. This story was from the second day, where the stories are all tales of people who suffer a series of misfortunes, but end up in a state of unexpected happiness. The story involves the daughter of the Sultan of Babylon, who was believed to be the most beautiful woman on Earth. She was to be married to the King of Algarve (southern Portugal…I looked it up). So the sultan shipped her off to Algarve with a ship laden with noblemen and treasures. But a series of storms caused the crew to abandon ship and the lady was left aboard the floundering craft. The lady is rescued by a Christian nobleman, and through a series of adventures and misfortunes, she falls into the hands of eight men in four years. Finally she is returned to her father, the Sultan, who is told she is still a virgin, despite her having had a lot of wild sex with the eight men. So everyone is convinced of her purity and virginity and she gets married to the King of Algarve as previously planned, living happily ever after. The story ends with the phrase “A kissed mouth doesn’t lose its freshness, for like the moon it always renews itself”. Somehow I find that comforting, in a general sense. Lives can renew themselves, despite the past. Hope springs eternal. Life goes on. Keep on keepin’ on. I’m back and blogging, baby!