a letter to his daughter
July 15, 1985
This is the second letter I'm sending to you from Rome, using my computer and ALSG's new world-wide satellite hook-up. You can now call Modemcity from many telephones in foreign countries, if you can believe that!
Well, I see now what these letters to you actually are. I figured it out today on the way to the beach driving alone in the car. These are The Pamphili Papers for 1985!
Let me tell a little bit about The Pamphili Papers. They're like The Tobago Papers, which I always write when I go to Tobago in the wintertime. Only, The Pamphili Papers are written in the summer, and almost always when I'm in Rome, staying at the Pamphili Hotel, which you know so well from our trip to Rome last summer.
They're like a diary. A diary kept by your Dad into which only his best thoughts go. Thoughts about living an exciting, happy life even under circumstances which for many people might produce the opposite result.
This summer these notes are apparently taking the form of letters to you, my daughter Abigail. I hope I do well and write at least a few of these during the course of this next week, and that you enjoy reading them at Camp, and that you learn a few things about your dad that I've told to very few persons (if any at all) in this world. You should keep them private.
Today I've been thinking about what Jimminey Cricket says in Pinnochio. It's a song:
When you wish upon a star... makes
no difference who you are...
When you wish upon a star, your
dreams come true!
When you wish upon a star when you really make a wish and want terribly for it to come true it "will" come true, and you had just better be ready for the results. Just like I was saying to you on the phone the other day, when you told me about your dream.
Well, to get on with it, there was a time about eight years ago, when you were a little girl of a year-and-a-half of age, when such a wish came true for me!
Quite suddenly having wished since I was a little boy to have lots of money one day, and lots of other material things which I thought my own Dad deserved, but couldn't have because he was financially poor I became what passed for "rich." I flew around on the Concorde whenever I had to go any distance, had people calling me on the phone night and day, and when in Europe I carried leather bags with cash inside foreign currencies of every description and in large amounts and jeweled bands which I would wear on my wrist, silver chains from India that I never really wore at all but carried around with me anyway, credit cards, Sony Walkmans, and, in secret places, powders and colognes and exotic substances which made me a very mysterious young man who could do almost anything he wanted to do.
You were one-and-a-half.
Well, that summer here in Rome many of those signs of wealth were taken away from me by robbers, and at the Pamphili Hotel. In the middle of the night! It was an inside job. By that I mean I was robbed by people who knew me. And I think that Suki was in on it, too!
Suki was the young woman I took to the Piazza Navonna that night for supper (where the toy store is). She was very happy to be with me, if I remember correctly, and had things to say about how beautiful the moon looked, and things like that, but she was up to no good.
She had a friend who went to my hotel room in the Pamphili when we were not there (or even perhaps when we were there!) and that friend took all my things.
I had gotten my wish, all right.
The story of what happened to me over the next few days is an interesting one. For a start, I thought I knew who had done the job, and I set out to find them, and at the very least confront Suki, who I knew held the clue to the mystery!
I have a diary (The Pamphili Papers, 1978) which sets forth my account of those events, and will send you a version of it to you within a day or so. It sets forth pictures of your Dad enforcing his understanding of justice and correct behavior, in a foreign country, and in a foreign language to boot. It's a story of smoke-filled bars, sports cars, expensive hotels, and agents who allowed their missions to be compromised emotionally at the last minute. It's all there, for better or for worse.
You would have been proud of me, I think, even though the end result was that I did not get back my money or my jewels, that I did not like the smoke-filled bars very much at all, but that instead I got a much better feel for what counts and what doesn't count for happiness in this world particularly if you're in the business of making wishes come true.
I figured it out that summer just like you figured it out this summer (and at a very much younger age, I might add) that getting your wish may be just the beginning of other problems, and that you had better reckon with those other problems in advance (if you can figure out what they might be) before making your wish in the first place.
Because, to say it one last time, your wish, if fervently made, is almost certain to come true. Just like GranCon told me when I was a kid.
These are The Pamphili Papers.
Your Mom and I love you as we love each other, which is dearly.