Friday, 30 October 2015

This gift

This gift will last forever
This gift will never let you down
Some things are made from better stuff
This gift is waiting to be found

Last week, while in London, I went to Glen Hansard’s gig. It was the last concert of his European tour and to me it was a way to balance the fact I missed the concert in Milan: I can’t understand this nasty habit of everyday life’s duties, such as work, to interfeer with my concerts schedule.

Despite my never-ending wonder at how drunk Brits can get, not just in general, but specifically at a concert, and how people can be more interested at their phone displays rather than watching the concert (yeah, I’m talking to you, blonde on the 3rd row that spent good part of the concert blinding me with the display of your iPhone: from where I was standing I could see that you’re truly into Facebook, but please pretty please dim the brightness of the screen, ifs), I loved the gig.

The setlist was a cool mix: a bit from the old album, a bit of the Swell Season, tracks from the new LP, one cover by Songs: Ohia and one by the Interference.
Towards the end of the concert I got a little bit blue: if a concert is really good, then there’s a moment, shortly before the encore, when I wish that it never ends. I wish we were trapped in a pocket in the fabric of time and space and we could be listening to music forever and ever.
Sadly, encore arrives, if you’re lucky you get a second encore as well, but then lights are on and you’re out, making your way to the train station.
The best way to deal with this kind of sweet sadness is to think about how beautiful the night have been and about more beautiful nights ahead.

It’s the same way I feel in the days after I return from a travel: I’m happy, my eyes full of wonder and memories, but also sad and with a longing to leave again. The best way to deal with it is to postpone the sorting of the photographs and plan the next travel.

With concerts I do pretty much the same: after I've been to one, I think of the concerts I already got tickets for and about the ones I hope to go to. Last week, sitting on the Hammersmith line, my mind was split between images of the concert I just saw and vague hopes for the ones that I'll go and see very soon.
In the last year travels and concerts have often gone hand in hand. They become my perfect getaway from all the things that are not really working as they should.
It's nice to visit a place and return home with a soundtrack in the mind and not only with pictures that I won't sort out but will rather dump in a random external hard drive anyway.

Instead of overthinking what doesn’t work I’ve decided to not care about it for the time being, or at least try to do so.
I try to not dwell too much on life and get an headache because of my inability at fixing my problems, but let stuff go with the flow: every travel I do, concert I attend, play I watch is a small gift I allow myself for having not given up so far.
Sometimes in order to enjoy my gift, there are some small price to pay, such as traveling with Ryanair after having managed to avoid it for almost 8 years: I got nightmares by simply recalling their lottery ads on board, but I still got a bit more of month to get used to the idea.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Friends. Gifts.

There are moments when I just hate being me.
Like early Monday morning, around 6:15 a.m. : I know the alarm clock is set for an early hour, earlier than usual, and I know I can't snooze it. I got a train to catch, so I can’t really turn around with the risk of missing my ride back to Milan.
That's why I try to go to bed early on Sunday evening. Try being the keyword as I miserably fail each single time and end up going to bed late, grumbling about being grumpy the morning after.

Then why, oh why, do I end up waking before the alarm clock?
Should I compliment my inner clock for being so proactive?!?
I check the time on the phone on the nightstand.
Still 15 minutes to go before I'm supposed to be up.

"Go back to sleep" I say to myself.
"No... It's late for falling back asleep. I'm up! I'm up rise and shine!!! I'm uuuuup!" Myself has I-take-no-order-from-anybody-not-even-myself attitude.
Go. Back. To. Sleep.” I order myself.
Lalalalalalala I’m not listening!” Myself is obviously quite an anarchic git.

This morning, as I was trying to force some extra minute of rest on my body (you'll thank me later, body), myself decided we had enough sleep and we should wake up: that’s the moment I started hearing something.
No, not voices: it was way too early even for schizophrenia to kick in, even though it’s never too early for some pluralis majestatis.
Was it a piano perhaps? Some chords... Yeah familiar chords, but I could not place them.

It was annoying: it woke me way before the alarm clock. I dig through the mess in my head, but couldn’t place it. The tune grew louder and clearer and by the time I locked the door behind me and started my walk to the station, the fog started rising.
I swiped my ticket at the metro entrance and I’m smiling because now the song is clear in my head: I can hear the melody, the words, the backup vocals.
I know the song, few taps on the phone and it’s not playing just in my head but on my headset too.
Like many Monday morning before, I’m sad and upset. I’m maybe a bit more down than usual, as the weekend has been so nice, lovely and serendipitous, the kind of weekend you wish it never ends. And yet it did end and what’s ahead of me is not so nice or lovely (I don’t think serendipity applies to Milan somehow).

And while the song kept playing on repeat, I stopped thinking about the train I had to take, the appointments ahead and just smiled at the memories of the last 48 hours.
It was a quiet weekend, family, friends and nap in between; I met new friends, new friends almost getting into a fight with an asthmatic dog; I met friends I planned to meet and friends I stumbled upon while crossing the road.

Sometimes I tell myself I should call or text a friend and 9 times out of 10 I don’t. I’m not sure why: surrounded and immersed into communication tools as I am on a daily basis, it shouldn’t be such a tough thing to do. Sometimes I got a desk with more iPad and iPhones than fingers on my hand, it shouldn't be such a task. Yet, most of times, I end up postponing calling people (so I don’t bother them), up to the point it’s too late in the night and I might as well do it tomorrow.

Some of my friendships languished and later died this way; on the other hand I believe it was their fate, they were not real enough, or maybe they were just one-sided, unrequited friendship. Just like love, being in a friendship means both parties have to work and care enough to keep it alive.

But for those 9 out of 10 dead ends, there’s still that remaining 1 and it compensates for all of them. That 1 doesn’t care how many months go by before we talk to or see one another: in the moment we meet again, it feels we just spoke one hour before and for all the thing that changed around us, our friendship didn’t. Or, if it did, it improved.

It’s quite awesome, isn’t it? For all the negative things that surround me, it’s an amazing feeling, to know I’m lucky to have such great friends. The trick is to remember about such luck: it’s so easy and dangerous to focus on all the bad stuff. Maybe because they’re more, but somehow the notion I got awesome friends fall too easily into the background.
I'm grateful for those friends, and I know it sounds cheesy, especially coming from somebody like me. A lifetime long education in stoic behaviours makes expressing gratitude and heartfelt emotions a tough, awkward experience. To say I feel happy, lucky, touched by having such great friends sounds weird, yet true to my ear.

And I should remind myself more often: breathing becomes easier after.
And in case you were wondering about the song… it was by Glen Hansard (who else?)

on Sunday

The best season to be in Torino is Autumn to me.
It's at its brightest and best.
Sure, bad weather is approaching, days are getting shorter and shorter, temperatures are dropping and it rains more often than not.
Yet after the rain has cleared, there are days like yesterday that are simply amazing.
Nothing special or awesome happens.
It's just another Sunday, nothing big. But the sky is blue after the rain, the air is crisp and it sparlkles with promises of better things to come. And it doesn’t matter that I know already thatn nothing better is truly coming, the promise of it is enough to be content.

Above all the light is amazing.
It shines down on the Mole and makes it look even bigger.
It envelopes the old buildings and makes them look lighter.
The Gran Madre church and the hill on the other side of the Po look so bright and beautiful.

You don’t need to do much to feel at peace, even if only temporarily: sit down for a coffee somewhere in the city center, slowly make your way back to the bus stop while perusing the used book stands.

Look up, breath deep and try to remember this feeling on Monday morning too.