Not only did I not visit Trieste during the year I spent in Milan in 1989-1990, neither did I visit this city of private myth during a second, more extended stay in the Lombard capital a few years later. How long is it by train from Milan to Trieste? Not more than five hours, and yet I never took that journey.
It was a period of my life when I felt I couldn't afford to make any trip that wasn't necessary for work, that didn't present a way to earn some money. I suppose that if I had tried a little harder, I could have figured out some way to pay my way to Trieste. I could have pitched a story on the city to some American travel magazine, for instance, or gone to investigate its local art scene (did Trieste have an art scene?). Instead, I stayed in Milan, a city I hated, where, in my spare moments, I kept tinkering with a few ultimately useless pages I had written about an imaginary photographer on assignment in a Trieste-like city as deserted and symbolically loaded as a De Chirico.
I wonder what my aunt would have thought of my notion of comparing the lives of Maximilian and Carlotta with those of my parents? It's impossible to imagine even suggesting it to her.
In some ways these were entirely opposite situations. In the case of my mother and father it was the wife who died as husband lived on (though not for very long), while in that historical tragedy it was the husband who died, in front of a firing squad, and his widow who survived.
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