An unexpected journey to Milan for the unexpected
10.12.2010 - 15.12.2010 12 °C
Back from a weekend in Milan. I must admit the journey there was a little unnerving for me at first. I sat at CDG with a cup of tea looking around me and thinking 'you must be nuts, this is crazy' and felt very queasy but at the same time I figured what the hell, I'd never visited Milan anyway, so might as well. Worst case I check into a hotel or something. Thankfully I bought my own ticket to secure that right for myself. So there I am sitting at the airport, my little trolley I took as carry-on, a first timer for me after travelling with 52 kilos over the last 10 months. Felt good actually to travel light! All around me are a mix of couples and single businessmen on their way to Italy, doing business, drinking in the comfort of their laptops and I, just looking around and outside the window at planes landing and taking off. Everyone going somewhere. And where I was going.
If I was in shock at my actions until that point, I was even more taken aback when I sat in my seat on the plane, alone, waiting for takeoff and hearing the safety instructions. Does this guy realize what I'm doing for him!? Getting on a plane to visit someone I barely know. I love to travel and taking off is part the only way to do it, that I get, but it's got to be worth it and for something I want. At that point, I didnt know either. Before I know it, the engines were hot and taking me up 30,000 feet. From the heavy, gray skies I transcend to the blue horizon and the sun beside me for an hour and a half. A completely different world. I'm sitting next to this French guy who is so concerned with his work, he needed wine to keep him even more in focus (or not?), as if this were a day-long journey and couldn't put on one smile. Funny enough, Lufthansa had a magazine issue dedicated to travel writing and fulfilling our passions - something I could identify with.
I hit the last page and we're already descending in Milan. Perfect.
I promised myself that I would do it like a local and I did. Free of 'baggage claim', I breeze through the "Arrival" hall, past the "Car Rental Pick Up" I had visited once in the past on my last business trip here and off to the Malpensa Express. I am very ashamed to admit that my Italian is bruised after so many months of Castellano but I dont give in. I make my way with my rusty Italian at all costs. The train is a 45 minute ride into town and around me are only "ciaos" "preggos" "abrazzos" and the like. I was loving it. Once I got to Cadorna station it was time to master the masses on the metro. The very thought of possibly getting lost or having to speak Italian was a thrill for me. I did it like a pro, got out of the station and walked to the address of this person's house. After the codes and keys, I enter the apt and there I am. Finally there. Unbelievably there. I look around and there is no mistaking this bachelor's home; playrights, enthusiastic CD collection, backlit flatscreen, comfortable loveseat, mini office space, cups in the sink, all complete with a man's bathroom and bedroom. I liked it. It was cozy. I made myself at home as I was told but I was restless so I went for a walk to discover the surroundings - still not knowing whether I might need the friendly services of the neighborhood. I made my small share of friends and came home. Twenty minutes later he arrived. I opened the door and there we were: two mere strangers standing face to face but feeling like we'd really missed one another. In one moment, I was caught in mega liplock I couldnt have imagined to be better in my imagination.
Anything I will add after that is an abuse and an injustice to the use of words. It was a lovely weekend. I experience the locals' side of life in Milan, ate well, drank sans remorse, met his friends and enjoyed every moment. It was all organized to a 'T' by some force up there somewhere; even the weather was unseasonably warm and sunny. Milan really isnt something I expected to see. It's a laid back, big village kind of feel, everyone is nice and friendly, no one is rushing anywhere, low key but high class, hidden gems tucked here and there that only locals know. It was very relaxing as a matter of fact. Duomos always seem to captivate me and its exteriors were magnificent. I felt like a child again, discovering an unknown city, everything is new to the eye. It's a thrill and a high I can't get from anything else.
And lots of things new to the heart. Careful treading though, I must admit. Its so tempting to want to let yourself get carried away again and you find how quickly it is to feel amazing after experiencing unpleasant lows. It was all such a pleasant surprise that really shook me inside. The connection, the conversation, the intrigue, the interest, asking questions, getting to know, observing with an adult's eyes, life in living color, as it is.
We headed to a conducting session at a theatre hall just outside the center of the city, in a high-tech looking, new neighborhood. There I was in the middle of a rehearsal room, sitting on a chair on the sidelines, watching these professional musicians play Mendelssohn's 4th symphony and it took me back to when I was 15 and had to wake up on snowy Saturdays because my piano teacher would pick me up to play in the citywide band... unfortunately for me, not on the piano. Rather, the trombone. The dreaded instrument whose name I dared not mention for years after that. I hated it - hated practice, carrying it, taking it home, pretending to exericse at home, being called on to play solo - all of it, but knocked' em dead somehow in school concerts. Anyway, this time, it was great to sit back and listen and also, to watch this certain someone play a game of puppeteer with the musicians, trying to get out the right emotion from every single string, every single note. It was moving and very intriguing! Someone with that kind of passion is always an inspiration. Basically, I spent the entire afternoon and evening among musical geniuses, drinking beer and 'pam pam pam'-ing away to the beats and scattatos of the symphonies they conducted. Nothing close to an ordinary Saturday, I must say.
Sunday came and we went for a nice brunch, again and just chilled. I really needed it although really, I came with no expectations. We said our own 'ciaos' and 'preggos' and 'abrazzos' and shared 'bacios' and off I went to board my chauffeur, Malpensa Express, leading me right back to the airport. As I was walking away from the building, I felt a little tug that reminded me of a feeling I once had not too long ago...about 1.5 years ago. It's nice to feel it again - and somewhat scarey at the same time.
And here I am, back in Paris, on a chilly night, around 0 degrees, sitting in a beautiful pink living room, wearing my pink ballerina slippers that keep my feet warm. I'm glad I took this chance for what it's worth. I felt very good. I dont want to say that it has turned my life around b/c I'm against 'drama' and 'drastic' combinations, but it did change it in a way I still have yet to discover and understand. All of this is a part of something completely new in my life and integrating this experience only makes the ride so much better and more interesting. No idea where this could go, but would be interesting to find out.
On the flight back, I felt proud, poised and good with myself for going out there and grabbing what life is offering me.
Ciaos, preggos, abrazzos and all.