I met William O. in 2001. I was at Vini D’Italia, my uncle’s little restaurant, where only few hour before I was arrived from Italy, my vacation…Bill was there, in one of the little table, alone, reading a book. I was on the other side of the room, trying to pronounce the word “otter”, that was difficult for my Italian accent and I didn’t pay attention about him as long as I felt like someone was there spying on me. My eyes went directly on the only guest that was there and they were captured by the eyes of the “man in black” (How I used to call him). He smiled and already I understood how special he was. The time passed and I was helping my uncle serving at the tables. And like a Swiss clock on Wednesday and Saturday, Bill was there, waiting to eat Italian food. No words between us, but only big smiles and bright eyes. Since, one day, he asked my name. Very very shy I said my name and I left. That was the way to become friends. He was all the time very patient with me and he tried to help me with my English, he asked me about everything, my Italian town, my culture and my real job. “I’m a researcher” I said, “I work with gerbils”, and he was also interested in that field. Amazing! Never I saw someone with more desire to learn something. Was the end of my vacation and I had to leave. I was so sorry I didn’t have too many possibility to share more time with him. Was Saturday and I was leaving the next Thursday. “I have to tell you goodbye, dear Maria Vittoria. I have to work on Wednesday so I will be not here as usual…but, maybe…I can try to get here, only to see you for the last time”. We were almost closing the door of the restaurant when the “man in black” arrived running…he came…for me (smiling). We took a couple of pictures and he gave me his card. When I was in Italy I sent him an email, and that was the beginning of our email friendship. Every, every night, as he said, “with the vacuum lullaby”, before leaving his office he was writing me something. I could know all his family, that he loved so much, and his friends, without knowing them [“Back here by the Bay, my dad picked me up at the airport then I spent Mother’s Day evening with my folks and sisters and brother-in-law (Cathy’s husband) and boyfriend (Aimee’s) and niece and nephew (who
I tossed around happily even though I have a cracked rib)”]. He was writing in a very strange way for me at the beginning, but later on I realized that…he was William O. Goggins. Everything was with a code. Every word was smart, funny and well putted [“Take your time. And don’t take any baloney. (Note: “baloney”means nonsense, aka bullshit, and is also the American word for Bologna sausage.)” speaking about my new boyfriend from Bologna]. He got the bullseye all the time!
Never I thought I could meet him again, but I had the luck to come for 6 months in the USA to work. So, we decided to meet each other again. I traveled to SF and I was with him for 10 days…the all day. Not only he was like I imagined him from the letters, he was also better!! His soul was full of life, he was curious, very polite, well organized and more all over… crazy! He liked to say: PAZZO, the Italian translation. And he was…in the hilarious way. I remember him jumping from the street and swinging on the roof of a gas station. I remember him throwing a little paper bag (from a Starbucks) on the back of the shuttle only because there was no any place where to put it, or throwing the ball playing Petanque in the most absurd place. I saw him with very different kind of people and with all of them he was able to make himself comfortable, speaking about something very serious or something very stupid, he was like a chameleon. One of his days was like 3 of mine going here and there and he had also time for a nap (wink). Absolutely…extraordinary. He was my teacher (“Guglielmo [William] da Baskerville”)…with him I have learnt something that is still deep in my soul…I have learnt how to love the life!!! And, he was only leading me, trying to let me thinking about the right answer. Incredible…sometimes he was too clever for me!
And…at the end of the day… it was our little quiet time speaking about ourselves. Sometimes listening to the music or trying to watch a movie before falling to sleep. Poor William…he was sleeping on the floor to leave me to be very comfortable in his bed. Who is that person that without knowing his guest goes to the airport to pick her up, organizes every second to make fun and sleeps on the floor. Only a “knight”, other name I gave him. In our emails we were speaking about dragon, princess and knight too, my writing fantasy improved, and more importantly… my reality too.
I’m going to stop now, I could write hundreds of unforgettable moments I had in only 10 days with him… But what I wrote I guess is enough to describe his gigantic enthusiasm to live the life and to fill your life of love and energy [“Hope the world’s putting a smile on your face, too, sweetheart.
All of us will miss you a lot. Forever with us,