Today I said goodbye to a friend, who’s moving on to new, great things. He’s at the beginning of something, and that energy is contagious, even the nerves and stress that go with it. And I know that I need to move forward as well, start a new phase. We can’t sit here collecting dust, not when we’re 24 and we’ll have plenty of time to sit and think about what it’s all meant later.
I don’t want to miss him, maybe I should just say I’m glad to still like him, after everything we’ve been through together. Because this is the kind of goodbye that still leaves things undefined for the future; the closing of a book, a pause, that makes reopening it again someday possible. It’s one of those moments where you just feel the effect of time, it all its dimensions. Past, present, future, and this is a day that will be marked on that forever.
How about I promise you this (although maybe you don’t mind either way, so it’s really a promise to myself): the next time you see me I’ll be kinder, I’ll be prettier, I’ll happier, more stable, so I can be the person I want to be rather than this mess of mixed signals. I’ll be better to you, but I won’t require anything in return, because I’ll be better able to take care of myself too. And I hate to say “next time,” to put things off ‘til later, because you often don’t get that second chance. So all I can say is, I hope it won’t be too long.
too many loyalties
I realized I was picking all my World Cup favorites (game by game, of course overall I’m for Italy) based on where my ex-boyfriends were from. Ok, that makes me sound like I get around, but I’m using the term loosely, what I really mean is people I’ve dated, even if it was just very briefly.
If they left a positive impression, I probably still think about them from time to time. And if their country’s team is playing in a match, it’s hard not to imagine them watching it at the same time, celebrating or commiserating, and in a way I sort of like that, being re-connected with people you’ll probably never see again, but whom you wish well.
And wouldn’t it be nice if we could see these people again, even just once, without it meaning anything or being awkward? Just to see how they are, what they’re up to these days. All these people with whom nothing catastrophic happened, you just went your separate ways, maybe it was circumstance, maybe there just wasn’t enough to hold you together. We remember the people that hurt us, but forget all too easily about these.
a lump of clay
On days when I am feeling unsure of who I am (we all have those, don’t we?) I think of the one “that got away.” And no, we probably shouldn’t rely on external validation, much less from someone we don’t know anymore. But even if it’s a bit sad, maybe it helps to idealize someone else, beyond who they really are, they become almost a symbol more than a memory.
And for a brief moment, he thought I was worth spending his time with. So maybe I can become something too. I don’t think I am anything yet, but I could be; I’m like a lump of clay, I can form myself into whatever I choose, whatever I like.
I don’t like the expression “finding yourself,” because I don’t think it’s something we find, I think we create ourselves. We all get formed by our adolescence, in ways that are out of our control, outside of our consciousness. But then I think in our early twenties we have a different opportunity, to see those forces that shaped us and choose — what we like, what needs amending. Who was a good influence on us, and who was a bad one. Who we use as that light, reminding us there can be an unexpected way forward.
la pazza gioia di essere (quasi) italiana
Today Stefano Gabbana replied to my tweets. Maybe I shouldn’t be so excited about this, but I just am. I love Italy.
Is there something kind of poetic about conversing (such as it is) with a household-name fashion designer about ducks and the weather? Call me crazy, but I think there is.
Okay I promise not to do this again.
realizing maybe i don’t know my mother at all
Yesterday I got an email from her — she’s setting off on one of her 3-week business trips to South America. Which sounds sort of like fun in the abstract, but she’s already been traveling for months, on and off, and she won’t be spending more than two days in any place, to get to relax or see anything. She’s done many of these before, and of course realized it can be exhausting and lonely, but yesterday she wrote that she’ll have to try not to get depressed as she often does on these hectic trips.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard her use the word “depressed” before, in relation to herself. And she said it with no melodrama, as if although it’s an extreme emotion, it’s just situational: checking into a hotel late at night, only to check out again to fly to the next city early in the morning. Day after day. It makes sense. And she’s a worrier: worrying about my father, who’s not in perfect health, and my brother, and me a million miles away, and her work.
While all this makes perfect sense, it was funny to me that she had never said it before, so directly. She has a personality that seems very open and straightforward, but I realized that she didn’t really talk about how she felt. She’s never outwardly made her own happiness a priority (funny for a child of the 60s, maybe), but even so her work and life choices I think have brought her genuine satisfaction and contentment, even if not daily joy. Well that’s how it’s always seemed anyway, but maybe I don’t really know afterall.
The email made me sad (just about any emails from home make me sad though), but in a way I also see this as an opportunity. A little more emotional honesty and openness, hopefully running both ways, now that I’m more of an “adult.” Now that we realize little by little how much we are like two peas in a pod, although you wouldn’t know it at first glance.
platonic friend date #2
I met up with my second language exchange friend in the middle of a sunny afternoon one day last week. Neither of us really knowing exactly how these things work, he suggested that we go see a little church nearby, apologizing that it seemed like a kind of religious thing to do, but I assumed there was some reason to see it so off we went, me trying to decipher his particular accent, and not walk into oncoming traffic at the same time (which is sort of like that old joke about walking and chewing gum at the same time, but it’s actually kind of hard).
A few minutes later we were there, and he had this sort of funny smile on his face so I knew there was something strange awaiting. And there was. There really really was. Down a little hallway, we stepped into a chapel decorated, as it were, with literally hundreds of skulls and other bones, on one wall forming a sort of cross, and peeking out from corners, ledges, everywhere. Apparently they were people who died during the Plague, and never had a proper burial, so someone decided this was an appropriate way to use their remains. It was seriously jaw-dropping, and I slipped back out of my Italian to say “oh my god” about a dozen times. I’ll have to get a picture another time because I was trying to play it at least a little bit cool, not tourist-y. And also there were people sitting and praying there at the time, so we just tried to stay quiet, towards the back. (I mean seriously? Imagine being a little kid and this is the church you go to on Sundays… “It’s like something from that Dan Brown book,” he said. “Yeah, or Indiana Jones.”)
So we were already off to a good start. Most of the time for these conversation things people go for coffee or an aperitif, so this idea was already a sign of a thoughtful person, an interesting one. (And spurred the idea that so far I’m really not pulling my own weight here.) And a good one: he paused to leave some coins for the men sitting outside on the church steps. Not to overanalyze it, but I like people who in tiny ways like this challenge me to be a better person myself, more interesting, more creative, more compassionate.
We went on to a little park (that’s it up there) which was another terrific thing for me to find, a quiet little oasis just a few steps literally from the very busy center of the city. It’s next to one of the city’s various universities (the one he is just now graduating from, actually) so it was filled with a lot of young people talking, lying in the grass, kicking around a soccer ball, playing with their little dogs. We found a shady bench and stayed for hours talking, switching between Italian and English, about what we studied, travel, different cities, music, television, society. And his belief in the 2012 end-of-the-world theory.
So it seems like it was the start of something good; or even if not, a nice little interlude, showing me a little bit more of the real side of this city, away from the busyness and fashion, crisp suits and fur coats. And this gorgeous little park keeps pulling me back for a few quiet minutes reading, or taking in some sun, or just thinking and trying to be that slightly more interesting version of myself.
I just want to take it all nice and easy. Really simple. I just want no complications in my life for a while, nothing holding me up or down or anywhere at all.
I’m learning to cook but I don’t even like buying too many long-term ingredients. A bottle of spices or the bigger, more economical, block of butter. It’s silly really. I just like the idea that I could pick up tomorrow if I wanted to, even though I know I won’t. It reminds me of S, his stories about how he ended up floating from place to place. He really is living like a feather in the wind. I like the idea of living without planning. S lured me to his apartment (it didn’t take much luring) with the promise of dinner, and then the haphazardness of what we did and didn’t find in the fridge just made me smile. I don’t know why. No strings, I guess. It has a certain charm, perhaps, because that’s how we met. Just two lost souls swimming in a fishbowl.
The easiness of it just makes me think: Chill. Breathe. I felt really peaceful with him. It’s the perfect antidote to the system in which I was raised, and I think he was too. I think we’re on the same page, responding in our own ways to the same things. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m projecting. I also like that we didn’t hash all this out.
It’s nothing to do with being responsible or irresponsible, or immature, or insouciant. There are things, and there are times, when you don’t need to plan. And you’ll be fine. It’s like the moment when you think you’re going to slip down under the surface but then you realize you can tread water. Sometimes you don’t plan, you just live.