At the End of That Summer

The journey begins on a hill, continues through the rain, to beaches and villages, before finally ending at the sea. A very blue Jaguar F-Type plays a role in the story as well.
  • Text and Photos
    Konstantin Arnold

At the end of that summer, we resided in a village on a hill overlooking many other villages. We could see the bays and the roads winding in the distance like fading melodies. Our hotel was old and big, the steep stairs kept the many tourists away, only rarely did we see a dowdy-dressed outsider. The vines on the slopes were full of ripened fruit, the scenery like something out of a movie. A place where a summer love could easily slip into fall. We knew no time, because there was none. The only appointments of the day were breakfast or a table reservation or a boat tour. We swam far out and jumped off the rocks into the sea, and the sea suited her perfectly. She could swim in the sea like temptation in Jacques Deray’s La Piscine. The other women in the cafes praised her tan and her jewelry. We stood at the counter with them after our swim and drank coffee and talked about the coast and her tan.

Sometimes thunderstorms came up and brought rain. First came the wind and then the clouds, the boats fled to their harbors and drew white lines in the blue like traces of memories. We had never known such rain. It was merciful and did not take up all the color of the sky. For a moment the world looked like a glass of rosé held up against the heavens. Everything was still and things were glowing. Night came out of the valleys, and you could see where houses stood everywhere. They appeared lonely and alone in the mountains or flickering in distant bays over the sea. In those nights, in the hotel, in our room, with the thunderstorm outside and us in bed, after getting rid of a certain feeling, dispelling all doubts, with the empty corridors and the Jaguar in front of the door, we became believers. They say that once you’ve seen the gulf like this, you can never be completely unhappy again.

Jaguar F-Type. The look of a bullfighter. Lunging, dashing, charging forth. Midnight Blue, with jangling brakes that keep the brute force of this jungle cat on the road.

Greek epics, Roman decadence. An Arcadia in the sloshing archaic sea. This is how the great masters painted their immortal panoramas, in the days of the Grand Tour, that traditional trip through Europe undertaken by young men of sufficient means and rank, officially for many noble reasons, but actually in order to gain experience in erotic matters, as they called it back then. The sea roaring in the background since time immemorial. Today the terraces are populated by romantics and millionaires, owners of yachts with helicopter landing pads. Men who, when they see an even bigger yacht coming into the bay, feel compelled to justify themselves to their wives.

Sometimes we encountered friendly Italian locals who didn’t listen to us and brought us something we hadn’t ordered but had to pay for, and when we complained, we made the locals sad. She didn’t like it, but sometimes we were far apart. The locals wanted to know where we were from and where we were going, and we told them we were happy here but longed for a long straight road through an autumnal valley. We had a fast convertible that you couldn’t drive so fast here.

1/3

The Jaguar had a broad snout, just the way I liked it. A Jaguar F-Type. The look of a bullfighter. Lunging, dashing, charging forth. Not a classic Riviera White or Amalfi Red, but Midnight Blue, with jangling brakes that keep the brute force of this jungle cat on the road. We didn’t know any blue Jaguar movies we could imagine ourselves in, so we had to be our own movie. Driving this car along this coast was like teaching foreplay to a newly sexually mature bull. They were the most beautiful roads in the world, but like everything beautiful, complicated. Spaghetti thrown into the landscape. A mountain on the left, the stone wall on the right, then cliffs, sea and death. Side mirrors clipped each other in passing, but the Jaguar made room. Some cars crept around the bend, others had dark windshields, if you met the bus, you had to back up, all the way to the next village, but the villages themselves clung to the slopes with all their might. The cafes came so close to the road we could take people’s drinks from their tables. You aren’t allowed to drive drunk, but you need a drink after every drive. They were inaccessible places, with nowhere to park. We asked the Italians if they made the little things in life more dramatic on purpose, and they said yes. They said if we didn’t like it, we should keep going south. We would have to stop in places that you really only drive through. Villages that no one knows the names of. They warned us to take breaks along the way, because each destination would only be the gateway to the next.

They were the most beautiful roads in the world, but like everything beautiful, complicated. Spaghetti thrown into the landscape.

Driving through a village like that, with a car like that, and getting out the way she did, with dress and headscarf, it seemed like the villagers thought the world of us. The old people shouted “bravo” from the stands and the village madonnas sat on plastic chairs of the sort you see in suburban gardens. Children ran after us shouting “la macchina, la macchina”, hardly able to believe that there was a blue Jaguar rolling through their village. We walked barefoot into tobacco stores, had a quick drink with someone, and rolled past crowded places in a country that takes pleasure in beauty instead of envying it. At first, the Jaguar was an extreme blue, but in the eyes of the Italians, the color didn’t seem so ugly. Especially after sunset, when the deep blue of twilight settled on the hood, and we could see the sky reflected in the paint and looked at the hills of Positano. The view was reflected in her eyes. It was like a memory of something that hadn’t quite happened yet. Because everything already lay behind us, and her hand on my leg. The air smelled of warm nights and flowers that hadn’t yet been picked. The town was down there, and we were driving up here, under a boundless sky with the top down.

The only time the convertible drove even better was in the afternoon, after we had gone for a swim. We passed through a plain with villas of people who had made their fortunes with mozzarella. The roads were empty and beautiful and wide. The Jaguar ate up the center line like Pac-Man. Golden, arid, bleached fields moved through the landscape like waves. We had lunch at a winery and then looked at the buffalo, drunk. A big, fat farmer showed us the way. He looked like a sad man making a happy face. He said we could drive as smooth as we wanted, life was just a straight line here anyway. That provoked us and we stopped. It was a long beach with a small headland on the left. No tourists, just two men in Speedos peacefully tossing a ball to each other. An Italian beach bum romance. A few boats docked, someone yelled “ciao” across the beach, two women went makeup-deep into the water, sunset, the works. I just wanted to be a rock hanging out here half submerged in the waves.

We walked barefoot into tobacco stores, had a quick drink with someone, and rolled past crowded places in a country that takes pleasure in beauty instead of envying it.

Onwards with wet hair, open top, barefoot, Italian music and the girl you love, curves that you could just as well take straight on, it was so beautiful there’s no need to make the words any more beautiful. Waiting for the right moment, which came when Pavarotti launched into “Nessun dorma”. We kissed in the face of that moment, and her kiss revealed that she didn’t need all of that, didn’t need the car or the straight line, but that it was nice to have, the straight line and the car and Puccini.

It ended up being a very romantic road trip, a midsummer moment out of time. Once we had looked out long enough from the balcony of a hotel, we drove on, from one meal to the next, on roads of which the Italians claim they wash away the weaknesses of men and the sadness of things. Only once did we roll into a rough part of town, so to speak. Vacant hotels, closed restaurants. Women working in roadside rest areas wearing high heels despite the midday heat. The sight of the sea had turned their eyes blue.

1/3

The long straight that had led us through all the valleys came to an end. On the last day of our trip, in the last light of day, we passed over our last hill before Palermo. We drove uphill for quite a while and saw how it was down there, by the sea, the bay, facing Africa. A single waterfront district. It was wonderful to arrive at the hotel after a long trip and have a porter call us by name for the last time and welcome us and take the Jaguar from us and fill it up while we went to our room and washed away the wind of the trip, lay down on the bed, picked up the phone, ordered newspapers and cigarettes and a drink. The doorbell rang and the porter was at the door, wide-eyed and white-toothed and smoking cigarettes and hoping for a tip. We gave him what he deserved and a little more, went back into the room. She brushed her hair. The light fell over the mirror on her hair and neck and bare shoulders. But we did not undress again, instead we went to the bar, sat in deep leather armchairs, wrote a letter, went to the sea.

The Jaguar ate up the center line like Pac-Man. Golden, arid, bleached fields moved through the landscape like waves.

A bottle and two glasses between us, the journey behind us. We wanted just this one more and promised ourselves never to be unhappy again, and then we were. Eternity in the chest, that’s how man is. What do we want anyway? To dream of love or to live love? A little stupor, a body to warm oneself on? To accept responsibility? To drive even faster without dying? To hold a hand without hurting it? The Sicilians say experiences are good, but it would be better to have them even before you make them.

Jaguar F-Type R-Dynamic Convertible

  • Engine
    Supercharged V8
  • Displacement
    5,000 cc
  • Power
    444 hp (331 kW) at 6,000 rpm
  • Torque
    580 Nm at 2,500–5,000 rpm
  • 0–100 km/h
    approx. 4.6 s
  • Top speed
    285 km/h
ramp #56 Alles zu seiner Zeit

ramp #56 Alles zu seiner Zeit

Alle Entscheidungshysteriker müssen jetzt tapfer sein, die Bewohner der Führungsetagen der Wirtschaftswelt sowieso. Denn nirgends ist die Kultur eines besinnungslosen Aktionismus so endemisch wie hier.

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