Why Romeo and Juliet ? Because once upon a time, rather than just being there in a work capacity, I spent time traveling throughout Europe actually enjoying places that weren’t as now only determined by business meetings and flight schedules. During that period, I was lucky to have visited many amazing places in many different countries. One of the places happened to be Verona in Northern Italy.
I’m not that into Shakespeare but have been known to even read a bit of his stuff amongst all the other genres of literature and pulp fiction I partake of.
So, my quick summary of his most relevant play to this place (although it could be argued that’s equally the one named ‘Two Gentlemen from Verona’): A relationship that only lasted three days between a 13 year old and a 17 year old and resulted in at least 5 deaths including the two leading characters. ‘Romeo and Juliet’…Not quite the tale of love everyone imagines.
However whilst that may be fact (or indeed fiction as it is just a tale after all) the legendary lovers’ famed balcony is one of the must see stops for any tourists visiting Verona. It doesn’t matter that Romeo and Juliet were invented, purely fictional characters just like the balcony (apparently only built some time in the 1930’s to give people like me a photo opportunity). Irrespective of the make believe, it was still right for me being the romantic I am to dream and imagine Juliet peering out from the balcony waiting for her lover to appear.
So it was as part of the tourist throes that I too joined in the procession towards the fabled house (actually I must have got it on a good day because there were actually few others about). Whilst in Verona I even visited Juliet’s ‘tomb’ and it was there I saw hundreds of letters that other people had left behind. And yes you probably guessed it, spurred on by the moment and my own inherent romantic streak I penned my own letter to Juliet while I was there (only she wasn’t called Juliet but I don’t believe that matters too much !). Rather than as others had done with theirs and leave it behind instead I placed it in an envelope and put it in my pocket for posting later.
I won’t bore you with the detail of the letter..well I would have done but to be honest I’ve forgotten exactly what it said. All I can say is I would have meant every word because otherwise I dont see the point, whenever I’ve put pen to paper I’ve always meant it. I guess if I’m true to form from other letters Ive wrote it would have spoke of both love and friendship which on several occasions in my life have come together when I’ve met up with someone who actually meant both to me. What I can remember is having to borrow some paper and an envelope from a fellow tourist as writing a love note on the back of a Postcard didn’t seem quite right.
Circa 25 years on from that time I’m happily married and wouldn’t ever wish to change that as my wife is possibly the only one who has ever said she loves me and still does so unconditionally (well as long as I do things like make her a cup of tea now and again – or has she got me fooled and that is actually a condition ?)
However to clarify the point, just so you know I didn’t actually end up with my ‘Juliet’…we’d become yet another pair of star crossed lovers…
I don’t know whether she ever called out “wherefore art thou…..” in my direction ever again ? I can only by her silence towards me guess not.
Perhaps things would have been different if I would have actually remembered to ever post the note – at least in our case in the end I believed it actually worked out better – I’m still alive and kicking and as for her…whatever ignorance and disrespect she may have felt by my not communicating meant at least I didn’t cause her to want to stab herself with a dagger -maybe just me instead !