Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman Read Online (FREE)
“I wish I had one friend I wasn’t destined to lose.”
She looked at me with a pensive smile.
“You’re speaking volumes, my friend, and tonight we’re doing short poems only.”
She kept looking at me. “I feel for you.” She brought her palm in a sad and lingering caress to my face, as if I had suddenly become her child.
I loved that too.
“You’re too young to know what I’m saying—but one day soon, I hope we’ll speak again, and then we’ll see if I’m big enough to take back the word I used tonight. Scherzavo, I was only joking.” A kiss to my cheek.
What a world this was. She was more than twice my age but I could have made love to her this minute and wept with her.
“Are we toasting or what?” shouted someone in another corner of the shop.
There was a mêlée of sounds.
And then it came. A hand on my shoulder. It was Amanda’s. And another on my waist. Oh, I knew that other hand so well. May it never let go of me tonight. I worship every finger on that hand, every nail you bite on every one of your fingers, my dear, dear Oliver—don’t let go of me yet, for I need that hand there. A shudder ran down my spine.
“And I’m Ada,” someone said almost by way of apology, as though aware she’d taken far too long to work her way to our end of the store and was now making it up to us by letting everyone in our corner know that she was the Ada everyone had surely been speaking about. Something raucous and rakish in her voice, or in the way she took her time saying Ada, or in the way she seemed to make light of everything—book parties, introductions, even friendship—suddenly told me that, without a doubt, this evening I’d stepped into a spellbound world indeed.
I’d never traveled in this world. But I loved this world. And I would love it even more once I learned how to speak its language—for it was my language, a form of address where our deepest longings are smuggled in banter, not because it is safer to put a smile on what we fear may shock, but because the inflections of desire, of all desire in this new world I’d stepped into, could only be conveyed in play.
Everyone was available, lived availably—like the city—and assumed everyone else wished to be so as well. I longed to be like them.
The bookstore owner chimed a bell by the cash register and everyone was quiet.
The poet spoke. “I was not going to read this poem tonight, but because someone”—here, he altered his voice—“someone mentioned it, I could not resist. It’s entitled ‘The San Clemente Syndrome.’ It is, I must admit, i.e., if a versifier is allowed to say this about his own work, my favorite.” (I later found out that he never referred to himself as a poet or his work as poetry.) “Because it was the most difficult, because it made me terribly, terribly homesick, because it saved me in Thailand, because it explained my entire life to me. I counted my days, my nights, with San Clemente in mind. The idea of coming back to Rome without finishing this long poem scared me more than being stranded at Bangkok’s airport for another week. And yet, it was in Rome, where we live not two hundred meters away from the Basilica of San Clemente, that I put the finishing touches to a poem which, ironically enough, I had started eons ago in Bangkok precisely because Rome felt galaxies away.”