Letter to an imaginary friend (A.K.A. First six months in Italy and I still suck)
This morning I was looking at the sky, from inside my room, when I saw a couple of clouds moving by really fast. I couldn’t help but think that maybe those clouds actually had a place to go, and that apparently they were pretty late.
Where do clouds go? I can’t remember what they taught me in school and all I can come up is that if most rivers go to die into the sea, it’s possible that clouds end up doing something similar into the sunset. But anyways, I prefer to think that they just keep running around the heavens in some sort of competition to see who’s faster or who can make it rain more often… I really don’t know.
Right now there’s a lot of sunlight, the temperature has gotten a lot better now that the strong and impervious winter has finally (or apparently, you never know) gone to bed and set his alarm for the end of October. I want his alarm to fail, I really do.
The flowers are appearing slowly on the tops of trees, and I can see the leaf buds starting to burst in some of the trees nearby.
It’s really difficult to get used to this “cycle”, so new and so surprising. My country doesn’t have any seasons besides the rainy and dry ones, and those are far from being interesting. Instead, since I arrived, here I’ve been in the middle of some slightly scorching temperatures corresponding to the end of summer, some delightful but mischievous snow falling that has given us a lot of fun and some headaches at the same time, and finally some relaxed and lazy rains interleaved with sunshine that I can’t avoid to compare to my own home city’s weather.
There are many ways to describe the nostalgic feeling of being close to home, the constant dreams of going to that mall so close to your old neighbourhood; or meeting your loved ones close to that paradisiacal beach where you used to go whenever it was possible to escape from the routine and roughness of your usual day to day life; or the way in which you can only find some peace and rest the brain while being able to speak Spanish with some other form of life.
It’s funny, though, that all this echoes of a distant home seem to faint in front of other thoughts, not so important or loved, but painfully real and scary. Did you notice that two paragraphs ago I used a very particular word in the middle of the sentence? Even when most of the time I write stuff in first person, I couldn’t help but use an “us” somewhere above (it’s there, you can check it out if you want, but I think you’ll need your energy to actually wade through the enormous set of silly and malformed phrases you’re about to encounter next).
To be frank, I really don’t have the slightest idea of who the hell is “us”. Maybe I’m referring to the interesting mix of persons from different cultures, religions and countries that form the student body of the very well nurtured Politecnico di Milano branch here in Como. The other option is always more scary and more difficult to explain, but I guess that it is more related to what I think I’m writing than anything else (Yeah, I just started writing without a reason, blame the freaking clouds if you want).
I’m preparing some rice with lentils and “minestra vegetables” (what? You can’t find it in the dictionary? I didn’t make it up, now did I?). I also added some condiments from Colombia and some marine salt, and like everything else, I’m sure I will eat it on a cereal bowl with some “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” decoration that I brought from home. What about the flavor? I can’t make any promises; this is Asiatic rice and these lentils are like hobbit equivalents of real lentils. Besides, my cooking, while not bad, has only ever appealed to some very particular tongues, like my sister’s. I will eat it anyway, even if the whole thing gets reduced to some sticky soup because I still can’t calculate the right amount of water I have to use. Back home I never had the need to calculate anything while cooking, either I was gifted or very used to the primitive tools provided by our almost never changing kitchen. But I digress… and I love it, it’s my guilty pleasure, so please allow me to enjoy it while I can.
Getting back on track, I’ve always been independent enough (there you go, that was the purpose of the previous, almost delusional, paragraph. Are you happy now? Because I’m not, the darn rice got burnt while I was writing…), after a few problematic realizations of the fact that I’m not the type of person that can go through life as a wholly social being, I had become the kind of person that would rather watch some anime on the TV or play videogames, than go out with friends to have a drink or a walk. If I ever made those plans, it was probably because the growing sense of loneliness and of being in the wrong place, which have been a part of my psyche for so long, had actually overcome my desire for not feeling uncomfortable “out there”.
But you may be wondering “why feel uncomfortable?” (Also you may be wondering why you’re still reading this stuff… I’m wondering the exact same thing actually!). Truth be told, I don’t like parties, but you probably already know that. I’m not much for drinking, although I’ve been trying to test my resistance lately with some interesting numerical results. I don’t smoke, and I do in fact hate when people smoke around me. I don’t dance, although I may enjoy the music and the rhythm, I just can’t relax while trying not to step on some poor girl’s foot. Oh, and since I’m a vegetarian (closer to a Vegan really), my basic options for eating out include only basic pasta, boring pizzas, green soups (minestre), and, if I actually liked them, even more boring salads.
After reading all this, you might be shocked to know that as one of the most ironic turns in life ever, I found myself again depending on people once I arrived to Italy. To make matters worse, it happened literally as soon as I landed on Lombard lands. In the blink of an eye I found myself going around as part of a minimalist and modern hunting group; our target was not a mere bear or deer, but a set of errands that would put to shame the most bureaucratic entities in the world. In a sense of speaking, we did share in some way the survival instinct with that group of hunters I was talking about.
But the days of that “group” are over now. I’m not eager for going into details, but I will say that the more you want to have a sense of family with people you don’t know, the more you appreciate the way your mother raised you to be a functional (but far from perfect) member of society, and the more you think that raising children should actually be forbidden to some people. Finding a real nominal and dysfunctional “black sheep” in this big and twisted world is like finding a needle in hay: a really difficult feat, if only more painful. But to be fair, it seems to be a normal feature around here to have two faces stitched together like part of an act in some bizarre imitation of a Tim Burton movie. I don’t like it, but I think I’ve created my own ventriloquist show to cope with the people I don’t like; it includes a fake smile and attitude, but I’m willing to sell it for a very cheap price… any buyers?
Where have those clouds a saw earlier gone? The intense sun is gone by now, and I can see some static dark clouds hover over this town. It’s not an ugly sight, but it requires a better trained eye to actually see the artistic beauty behind the relative darkness of the late afternoon.
I am alone now. My friends tell me that I expect too much out of people, and in fact I really do. Perhaps I’m looking for some equilibrium; perhaps I’m just an asshole; perhaps it’s both; perhaps I should stop using semicolons… who knows?
Hey! Maybe I should become a teacher! It looks like I’m judging people all the time, so I have at least half of the requirements. They say that the devil is in the details, in which case I should probably replace the Bible in my bed side table with the Necronomicon. Of course, I’m kidding; I don’t have a Bible or a bed side table in my room.
Details, details, details; constantly analyzing stuff, words, looks, movements, actions… Anyone would say that with such an eccentric mania I would at least avoid speaking without thinking first. I’m sorry to say that I don’t. I’ve always had the ridiculous ability to hurt people with mere words; sometimes on purpose, sometimes by mistake. My tongue is a very pathetic excuse for a weapon, but indeed deadly it is. Just show me one weakness and my brain is able to perform amazing computations and find the most prolific way of bringing you down. I don’t think that this can be called a gift, but sometimes it’s good for spontaneous “come back phrases”. Want to give it a try? You better don’t…
I think I begin to understand why I always try to be a good friend to people. I already know that I’m going to fuck up eventually, so I guess I have to pave the way into forgiveness from before, maybe even from the beginning. I have to be nice, because I’m going to be a prick later… and that sucks. But there are times where I contain myself, and try not to let the wrong words out of my mouth. It’s difficult… I could say that it burns; it’s like trying to keep a very important secret when you already know that the reaction could be devastating, but you just want to see the reaction.
Do I deserve a cookie for not opening my mouth? Probably you deserve it more than I do, just for being able to withstand the intense pain of reading the pythonesque crap I’ve been writing. But let’s be realistic, none of us is going to get a cookie. Yeah, reality sucks, I know. But anyhow, I do think that I deserve something for being “nice” most of the time. It’s not like I’m asking for retribution; I just want some respect, and perhaps deep down I want to find someone who’s willing to treat me in the same way I treat others; difficult task, but certainly worthy.
But as I said before, I’m alone. I give up, this whole thing sucks. Ring the bell, blow the whistle, the match is over, I forfeit the game. I can’t understand people. Hell! I’m pretty sure they don’t even understand me, and I think that includes me too. I’ll just accept my situation and stop playing the good and social guy. I’d rather be alone than have a stroke because of anger and anxiety! I might die in the middle of the process; there is no anesthetics, no laughing gas. And I’ll probably make the people who slightly like me, hate me with all their guts. It wouldn’t be the first time, but it’s something that holds the heavy metallic flavor of blood that you never get used to, no matter how many times you bite your lips.
Let’s talk about something else: When I go to the supermarket I like to buy Colombian bananas; it somehow makes me feel a little bit closer to home. The other day I found some Colombian Uchuvas (Physalis), but since I don’t like them that much I didn’t buy them. Colombian coffee is good too, but I’m not of a coffee drinker.
Going to the supermarket used to be fun at the beginning; seeing all those new and unknown products was really interesting, and provided quite the small reading for a vegetarian like me. But it wasn’t fun because of that; it was fun because I wasn’t going alone. I’m not much for shopping by myself, actually I hate it, but there are not many options now. I should be used by this time, but I’m not. Hmmm, I thought I was supposed to drop that subject, guess it’s still in my mind… Have I told you that I don’t even have a discount card anymore? That’s just one of the many benefits of not choosing wisely who to call a “friend”.
Next subject… You want to talk about the language? I love learning languages, but Italian is special; it’s way too similar to Spanish, and I can’t set my mind into it. Why bother if you are going to end up mixing up both things? Things that are too much alike make me lazy; things that are too different make me crazy; Italian has them both and it’s difficult to keep track of what is different or not. Either you care too much and end up not saying anything when in doubt, or you just stop caring and create your own mixed words hoping that people will understand you.
Should I stop writing now? I don’t think that this exercise of writing whatever is in your mind works the way it should. It’s a very dark and scary place and most stuff coming out should never leave its nest. I really don’t know what I pretended when I started writing. To be sincere, I don’t even know what I want with my life, much less with a simple text. If I knew what I wanted, I probably wouldn’t be in Italy now, for real! I’d be back at home, scratching my balls and watching Anime on my 52’’ Bravia TV while sighing and thinking of going somewhere else, which is the same thing I’m doing now, but without the big ass TV.
The clouds are still there, they seem to move only when I’m not looking, like those ghosts in the Super Mario games. I want them to move, give me the sensation of freedom that I desire. At the same time I don’t want them to move, I don’t want them to leave me alone. They’re immense, they seem honest… why can’t they stay? Will they listen to me? Or do they, like everyone else, have something better to do? Am I the only one with nothing better to do?
Let’s make a deal: I will listen to your problems and you will listen to mine. Of course, this is not such a good treat, because if you already read this whole thing, you have already fulfilled your part of the deal. But wait, this whole concept is wrong… I hate when people think that friendship is some sort of credit contest. If I do something for you, it’s not like I’m keeping count. I will ask you for favors, I do it all the time. Even If I haven’t seen you in a long time, I will probably only hesitate a little before asking you an urgent favor. If you help me out or not, it’s up to you, it doesn’t matter. But with some people it’s different; when you ask them a favor they have a way of saying “sure, you’ve done me many favors before”. What the heck is that supposed to mean? If I hadn’t done you a favor before you wouldn’t help me? What happens if I run out of “favor credit”? Will you turn your back on me? Aren’t we supposed to be friends? Fuck you!!!
It’s like when they say “Remember that if you need to talk, you can always count on me! But not now, ‘cause I don’t have time… and later I will go with my friends to see a movie… and then I’ll go eat with someone else… oh, and tomorrow I’m going somewhere else… oh, and don’t call me to my cell phone because I’m waiting for an important call… how about next week?” If they’re so fucking important why are they even hanging out with me? Do they think I need their pity? Am I only good for listening to their problems, but my problems are too unimportant for their blessed ears? I think I’ll never now…
Ok, the use of bad words is telling me that this whole catharsis method of writing is not working. I was trying to release some pressure, but it didn’t work. Do you know how many times I’ve said to myself words like “I don’t give a shit”, “I don’t give a fuck”, “who fucking cares”? It’s becoming a very macabre mantra, and that’s never good karma…
The sun is already hiding in the horizon, what a sissy… get some balls! It’s also getting colder, and soon I’ll have to heat up the burnt rice for dinner. This week I’ll disappear, I don’t want to talk with anyone, I need some space for thinking and some time to make ludicrous decisions. Hopefully the sun will come back to us tomorrow with a great smile on his hepatitical face, even after I insulted him (I’m sorry, will you forgive me? [Place ashamed emoticon here if you will]).
I’m sorry if you actually read this far; I mean, I’m thankful and I really appreciate it, but quite frankly the quality of my writing is terrible and the order of the ideas is frantic enough to give you epilepsy. Hopefully next time I will write something funny, or draw some comics or stuff. Don’t give up on me, and maybe, just maybe, I won’t give up on you…