Tuesday, August 24, 2004

A Taxi Ride in Naples

In Naples (Napoli, in Italian—nah-POLE-ee), we hired a taxi to take us down to Pompeii.

On our way back to the ship, I got talking with our driver. As we drove by a certain neighborhood, he said, “I used to live there.”

“Oh yeah? When was that?”

“Until last week.”

“Last week!”

“Yeah. I broke up with my girlfriend. I couldn’t take it anymore.”

He had been telling us about his two daughters, so I asked: “What about your daughters?”

“Their mother and I haven’t figured that out yet,” he said. “I want to be a good father, but their mother was driving me crazy. . . . ”

I said nothing and he kept talking—religious talk (and I had said nothing of religion): “I mean, I believe in Christ. I am a good Catholic. But marriage doesn’t make any sense.” He said something about the important thing being good relations and positive regard one for another. The marriage ceremony is unimportant.

“But without the marriage, if the mother and father break up, the mother and children are usually hurt,” I suggested.

“I will do my best,” he said.

Astonishing to me how deep one can become with someone who is almost a complete stranger. Why do these conversation happen to me? And where could I have gone with this? . . . I felt as if I was already treading on the very edges of my ability to communicate, much less to say something that would be helpful to the man. And yet I didn't know what else to say.

What is marriage, anyway? Is it merely a man and a woman living together “as long as they both shall love”? That seems to be the modern definition of the term! (Oh. No it isn't. It is two people living together “as long as they both shall love.” Sorry!)

. . . I had more thoughts on this spurred by a book I read later on our vacation.
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