The very thought of it made him all itchy. The doctors told him it was all in his mind. Just drink a glass of wine and forget it. Stress most likely. The life of a struggling virtuoso is not all its cranked up to be, they told him. Why not take up a real trade?
But only Gian knew how on hot summer nights when the wind blew in south-easterly through his window, ripping up the sea, he would roll from side to side on top of his sheets as if he himself were out in the waves.
When Andrea told him she worked in the vineyard, Gian broke down in a sweat. He had always hoped he would meet an introvert, someone like him, who might hide in their attic like Emily Dickinson and they could both have someone hoist up their food in a basket to their window. They would then never need to open the front door again. But Andrea loved the good things in life. “La Dolce Vita” as they call it in Italy. She had often said life is too short to not enjoy good food, good company, and good music. In another life she might have said good sex too, but this was 1908.
Gian might not have been the most social man, and Andrea conceded to her family that he was a hermit, but the music. That music. She would sacrifice everything for his music. In his melodies, she felt everything she had ever feared dissolve. And on the odd occasion he would actually play, when a travelling bard came through town accordion in tow, she would dance, and everyone would sing, and laugh, and drink. Except Gian.
Gian never drank.
Most of the time, Andrea was one of those people that never thought too much about anything, not in the sense that she was foolish or never paaid attention. Rather, she simply enjoyed everything for what it was. No more, no less.
When she raked the grapes from their vines, placing the deep reddish-purple ones into her basket on her arm, and casting the duds to the ground, she felt the music of the leaves in her ears, and the cool sea-breeze on her cheek. On clear days she could see out far enough to the islands and the pink evening sunset that would drape them.
She knew it was Heaven there and she often said that she wouldn’t trade it for the world.
“I’m home,” said Andrea, walking in the door. Still in her dress, covered in dried up globs of blue and purple and red, she walked up the steps and found Gian at the attic window, sitting in a small wooden chair with his elbows up on his knees, his hands around his ears, looking out over the vine-covered hills.
He turned to see Andrea, as if he had forgotten he no longer lived alone. His eyes were red and he seemed dazed.
“What’s wrong?” asked Andrea, as she put her basket down on top of the piano.
“Nothing,” replied Gian.
“You were up all night again, last night.”
“Yes, I was working on something.” He tapped his fingers unknowingly on his thigh.
“Our song?” asked Andrea, smiling.
“No,” replied Gian, blankly. He stood up and for a moment looked lost staring intently at the carpet. For a moment the thought occurred to Andrea that perhaps he was going to tell her something awful, but the thought was so fleeting it was just that, a half-composed feeling.
Gian slowly walked to her in the middle of the room. “Our song goes like this …” He slipped his arm around her waist and they begun an impromptu waltz as Gian sang, “Da, da, da, dee da, da da …” and Andrea laughed as he spun her around in a blur of blue and purple.
The Red Vineyard
Vincent van Gogh
(The only painting Vincent van Gogh is certainly known to have sold during his lifetime.)