hope |noun| a feeling or desire for a certain thing to happen
As a storyteller, you need to know when to listen, just as much as when to speak. I am silent now. I am listening.
“Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody,” (or so says Stephen Chbosky in The Perks of Being a Wallflower).
Our move from Milan is upon us. We are packed up once more, leaving our car in a state of delicate equilibrium that defies the very laws of physics. The four of us (Luis, Botox, Eclisse and I) are Switzerland bound – a land of hyperbolic rules, where stopping your neighbor from flushing his toilet is a basic human right. Orson Welles put it like this, “In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” Let’s just say I hope to be setting myself up for a pleasant surprise with my low expectations – it’s strategic.
These physical transitions mark the passing of time in such a measurable way. (Somewhere off in a corner, J. Alfred Prufrock repeats himself. “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons,” he says.) Needless to say, it goes by quickly. The seasons are also changing – which is fitting. The week began by welcoming snow, followed by fresh warm sunshine. Now, of course, it’s raining as if Noah himself were on his way to take us to Neuchâtel by Ark. Man, getting through customs with all those animal passports is going to be a stinker. And I see ever more distant an opportunity to show-off my new Mafalda 86 sunglasses – the ones I’d been dreaming of buying since Milanese post no. 1.
My sister asked me the other day, if I’d miss it in Milan. I’m ok, I told her. I put a lot of life into my days here. Nothing major was left undone or unsaid. I left my writing clam enough to oil open some stiffly closed doors – it was almost always worth it. I engaged with the city again and again despite the occasional kick in the shin. There were also some unexpected acts of kindness. Perhaps this uncertainty was a little trying at times, but that makes me no less thankful for… all the members of the local Botox Fan Club (although I suspect some people joined thinking it was something else), the girls night out with my friend’s long-standing group of girlfriends (including the one that gave me a ride home on her bicycle while I held her spanking new Valentino shoes), the barista at the Design Library that always served-up my third coffee of the morning with a great big Congolese smile, the Florentine police officer that gave me restaurant tips to get me out of the pouring rain, the coffee that turned into lunch that turned into an afternoon with a stranger passionate about her projects, the Damian Lewis look-alike that took it upon himself to see that the we got off the train at the right stop (when no Cinque-Terrese seemed capable of giving us correct information in the midst of a snowstorm), the friend of a friend that bought me a drink (on an evening where we ended up testing the acoustics in Piazza dei Mercanti)… and the list goes on.
A lot of writers will tell you that you should only wrap up your day’s work when you know what you need to write next. It’s fitting then, that I left a few odd bits to be enjoyed (or revisited) if life takes a detour in this direction again. (It already has so twice before, remember.)
Switzerland will have it’s own dynamic – certainly much different from Leicester and Milan. It will also require us to begin looking beyond our stay there. What job opportunities lie at the end of our four-month Neuchâtel stint? In what country? Will I be able to keep writing?
We’ll see. For now, we listen. Easter is upon us – and that is a time for hope.