Monday, January 30, 2017

The Kindness of Strangers

Two young women are sitting on the train, talking about -what else? One young man. “So, then he told me that…” The second woman is listening carefully as the first one is narrating the latest developments in her complicated relationship with some guy.

A young man has sat on the seat opposite the woman narrating the story. He has been listening to the narration for literally less than a minute when he cuts in. “He is not for you. Let go.” The woman spontaneously laughs, feeling awkward. She goes, “Do you think so?” “Definitely”, he replies. 

Her friend disembarks the train. She turns back to the guy. She debates on it for a second and then takes a deep breath and asks him: “Why did you say that before? Is it really that obvious that I shouldn’t waste my time that a stranger who has heard nothing but a friction of our conversation tells me to let go of him?”

He looks at her carefully. He has an air of confidence and he is sure of what he says: “Yes”.
She sighs. “You’re right.”
He: “I’m a psychologist. What do you like about this person?”
She: “I don’t know. All of him.”
He: “Where is he?”
She: “Abroad.”
He: “And?”
She: “And nothing.”
He: “He is there on his own. And he is bored. And he messages you. That’s why he tells you all those stupid, vague things. What do YOU want? Why do you want this person? Do you think that perhaps you actually like that he is not here? Is it the first time you are attracted to someone who is far away?”
She: *blushing* “No.” (defensively) “But I didn’t know from the beginning that they would be far away.”
He: “It doesn’t matter. You are drawn to these people. Why is that? Because you DON’T want a relationship.”
She: “I’m not sure that’s true.”
He: “It doesn’t matter. He is not here. If he comes here, you’ll take it from there. And if he doesn’t come back? Will you waste your time? Keep your eyes open here. And enjoy your time. Find someone who wants you and fights for you. Someone who tells you ‘I want you, I want you, I want YOU.’ Someone who FIGHTS for you. Because you deserve that.”

She, looking down: “Thank you. That’s my stop.”
He: “Goodbye. Remember to enjoy your time. Do not waste it.”

As she got off the train, she gave the guy one last look. Did he actually have a point about her not wanting a relationship? 
She thought back to the people that she kept, again and again, choosing. 
And then she stopped walking and remained at the platform, eyes wide open, watching the train leave and disappear into the distance.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Would YOU take the leap?

So I have this thing when I go on holiday. We visit the most beautiful islands and we find on them enchanting beaches. Some of them sandy, easy, accessible, and some of them hidden under steep rocks. After a climb -which, if you are clumpsy like me, involves your smartphone landing screen first on the rocks while you are trying to take a photo of the breathtaking view- the unique, wild landscape unfolds in front of your eyes and you just cannot wait to dive into the clear blue water.

Once I've taken the first dive and I've relaxed for a bit, I start looking at the rocks around the beach. Without fail, there is always a group of young people, often little children too, who climb up a rock and jump into the water from there. I admire them for a bit, getting excited at the prospect, and after debating for a while I join them at the top.

When up there, I look down into the water. How deep could it be? Is it deep enough or am I going to land on a rock and die? Perhaps it is too high, although it doesn't look like a long fall... And what if I fall in an utterly idiotic way and end up in a wheelchair? Gee, I cannot do this. I start sweating. The sun is hot on my skin but I don't want to go back to my friends defeated. Oh look, that little kid just jumped. What is he like, 10 years old? Surely I can do it too.

I go as near the edge of the rock as I can without fainting. The rock under my feet is sharp and uneven. I cannot take a few steps back and then jump because it looks slippery. My heart is racing, I feel the blood rising to my head. Am I having a heart attack or a stroke or something? Is that what this feeling is? Adrenaline. I take deep breaths. I start pep-talking myself: “Everyone is doing it. People your age, people with a similar body type and physical condition. You CAN do it. Don't be such a pussy. Just go for it. If you don't take the leap now, then when? Don't be afraid to jump. Never be afraid to jump. Never be afraid in general.” More deep breaths.

The youths that are jumping talk to me, encourage me. They're very friendly. They tell me to just walk to the emptiness. A lad is walking backwards towards the cliff while talking to me. “Look!” and he just goes for it. When his head surfaces from the water, he whips his hair, laughs and says “Come on!”. I can't. People are jumping. One by one, two of them together, quietly or with a scream of joy, they just do it. I look down one last time. It's now or never.

“Come on, Anna!”, I hear a voice coming from the sea. Have I stayed under the sun for too long? I'm pretty sure I heard my name. Am I hallucinating? I look into the water but I cannot distinguish the face of the person. “Did you say 'Anna'?”, I yell to the sea.
“Yes!”, the faceless girl replies. I've no clue who she is. It turns out, she is an old classmate of mine from elementary school. How on earth she recognised me, that I don't know.

I can't. I just can't. I am overcome by disappointment. Why can't I just take a stupid leap? I used to do these things all the time when I was a child. What changed in-between? Did I become aware of the dangers of the fall or did I just somehow lose my courage? I lower my head and go back to my friends. I must have stayed up there for the bigger part of an hour. The whole beach has witnessed the scene. What a failure. “Let's go in”, I tell my friend.

Maybe taking the leap is something that I am afraid to do in general. Maybe it has nothing to do with heights, rocks or jumping. Maybe I am just so terrified of getting hurt that I decide to just stay in my comfort zone. I will take the road not taken for a bit, sure, I will explore what is there, but then I will return. I won't go all the way in. Not without someone holding my hand and telling me that if we fall, we'll fall together. 

                    Seychelles Beach, Ikaria Island, Greece

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Mild Obsessions

Obsession has always been a recurrent theme in my life. Doesn't this hold true for everyone? It is only natural that when you find something that you really like, whether that's a series, a band or a person, you start obsessing over it. You start watching a series and once you are caught up, you start looking for more information about it: theories, commentaries, extras, all of it. You hear a song that speaks to you and you start listening to it on repeat, over and over again. You meet someone you are attracted to and you start engaging in the whole drama, will he text me, will he want to see me, will he like me back? And you talk about all that to your friends until their ears bleed.

The good thing about obsessions is that eventually, you grow out of them. You get sick of the song, you become bored of the bar that you've frequented for the past five Saturdays, you find a new series to watch. But does the same hold true for people? Do we at some point get bored of our crushes? Do we go like “ah, fuck it, nobody has the time to wait over the phone” or do we stalk the shit out of the person till we find someone new to torment us? And what if the world consists of an endless chain of people not being attracted to each other but each one to someone else? The way I imagine it, is you fancying someone who fancies someone else, who in turn fancies someone else and so on, a never-ending chain of unrequited love. Isn't that a disturbing image.

My current obsessions are cocktails and everything that has to do with the GoT finale. They may not be original but at least they're relatively harmless.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

One Warm Winter Night...

I recently met up with an old friend of mine whom I hadn't seen in quite some time. He came over to my house and we sat on the terrace. It was a beautiful night in the middle of February, a night that smelled of spring: calm, without a single leaf moving on the trees and with the stars shining above us.

We sat there listening to music and a fair number of drinks later we got to talking about relationships. It was basically me narrating the story of my most recent heartbreak and him pretending to listen patiently while in fact thinking about completely random things, I'm pretty sure (by the way, if you are reading this, know that I tried to be as brief as possible!). Among other things I told him that for some weird reason, the guy I was talking to him about made me trust him, despite barely knowing him and although I find it very difficult to trust people in general.

“And you know what?” I told my friend. “He was the only person to whom I've been the first to say “I think I like you.”

My friend let out a laugh, maybe with a hint of bitterness. “Every time I've told a girl I really like her, she eventually disappears.”

We, humans, are truly strange creatures after all. That's why I think I'm going to stick with cats.

Friday, February 12, 2016

On Valentine's Day

My first high school crush did not exactly have a happy ending. I was twelve years old or something like that and the boy I liked ratted me out to the teacher for writing on my desk that I loved him. Mind you, all of the desks were dirty as hell but I got written on the -very literally translated as- “penalty book” nevertheless. And that was the end of it. I decided I hated him and found someone else to stubbornly crush on although there was no response. I had to change schools for that second person to finally come to me -something like two years later- and admit he had always had a crush on me too. Naturally, I was crazy about someone else by then. Story as old as time. But that's the way people are, that's how we behave. And no matter how many times we make the same mistake, we seldom learn from it. Like the fly which bangs on the window glass again and again in an attempt to get out. Isn't that what every single one of us does? No matter how well you know that the dish is damn hot, you are going to burn your tongue tasting it anyway...

P.S.: All of the above is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. More or less.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Boys will be boys.

Cursing, being gross and talking about girls. No matter what their age. 

During a private lesson with a 7-year-old:
Student, in a very serious tone: "Anna... Does your mum let you curse?"
Me (looking at him for quite a few seconds while intensely struggling inside): "No... no she doesn't."
Student, with a sad look on his face: "Oh... Mine neither."

Another 7-year-old -not a student of mine this time- looking at me with his big blue eyes and his round glasses and saying with a child's disarming honesty: "That skirt is quite short for your age". 

Very hardcore 9-year-old's composition about an evening out: "A week ago I went to the cinema with my friends. We saw a horror film, the Lord of the Rings 2. Then we went to a bar and drinked coca cola. I had a great time."
The bar part cracked me up so much that I even forgave that he wrote "drinked" instead of "drank". 

In a class consisting of 9 and 10-year-olds:
Nick: Miss, can I go to the bathroom?
Me: No, you should have gone before the lesson.
Nick: But I have to gooooo!
Me: Do you REALLY have to go?
Nick: Yes, I REALLY have to go or else I will piss on Victoria (the girl next to him).
Nick: Why, miss, it's what she deserves!

12-year-old student during a private lesson: "So the other day, me and my friends explored an abandoned factory nearby. It was dark and creepy and AWESOME. We just forgot one thing..."
Me: "Oh, and what was that?"
Student: "We should have taken some girls with us, so they'd fall right in our arms once they were scared..."

12-year-old's composition about something that happened at school... While almost everyone else wrote about a test that they missed and how cool that was or something boring like that, he wrote:
"Dear George,
How are things? I hope everything's OK. You won't believe what happened at school today. Some friends told me some things about the girls and you won't believe it. Guess what: a girl really loves you. She will ask you if you love her too!!! GIRLS. (blah blah blah main body of the essay)
I hope you answer my letter and we will talk at the basketball training today. Also, say hello to your mum."

13-year-old during a private lesson:
"I didn't understand this exercise. Can we do it together?"
"No, but you have five minutes to do it on your own and we can check it together afterwards."
"But it's different when we do the exercises together..." *bats eyelashes*
"I'm gonna throw up."
"Damn it, that always works with the teachers at school!"

Aforementioned 13-year-old:
Me: How would you feel if you were chosen to participate in an exchange programme abroad?
Student: Scared. I wouldn't want to leave my family.
Me: Really?! Oh, right, how old are you?
Student: 13. But I'm good-looking.

14-year-old student during a private lesson:
"So there's this girl at school and she's a massive wh... you know. So the other day she came at school wearing just a pair of leggings and she wore a thong underneath and me with 20 more guys were standing behind her, staring, as the light fell on her... We could see everything! She's such a sl... you know."
"If you don't like her, why were you staring?"
"Errr... you know, it was just there, what was I supposed to do?"

Aforementioned 14-year-old who has understood the meaning of life: "When an exercise is full of mistakes, you yell at me. When I do it correctly, you ask me if I did it by myself. You women are never satisfied with anything!"

14-year-old student's composition on the following topic: "You have decided to host an Italian student. Write a letter to the head-teacher with all the necessary details."
"Dear Mr. Stevens, I'm writing in response to the notice about hosting a foreign student. We would love to host an Italian student. I would like a girl because I want to find a girlfriend and my sister feels alone. So a pretty girl would be perfect. (blah blah blah main body of the essay) I hope we have been chosen as a host family because I really want a girlfriend."

In a group consisting of 14-year-olds:
"Miss, does 'play it safe' mean masturbating in secret?"

“We'll always have Paris...” A bit of sarcasm, a bit of bitterness and a lot of nostalgia.

A blog is usually something like a diary, which instead of being private, is there for everyone to see. Some of those who write blogs are just not confident enough to make vlogs while others just see it as the first step to their long abandoned childhood dream of becoming writers (cough cough). There are blogs that are themed: cookery blogs, fashion blogs, weird blogs about things kids say to you (who writes the latter anyway?!) but who says that you cannot drift from your blog's main topic? And that is exactly what I am going to do today.

I always go on about how much I love my job because it keeps me entertained and as those who know me well will willingly tell you, I am one of those super annoying people who need to be entertained ALL the time. Problem is, the older I get, the less fascinating my life seems to become. Going out with friends is more scarce -since the majority now have proper jobs, are in serious relationships or have moved to other countries- I work longer hours and I travel less and less every year. Not to mention that I am going to be 26 soon which means I am getting closer to being 30 and as we all know, it's all downhill from that point on.

So as I'm sitting in my room, wind blowing, it being late and all, my mind wanders back to times long gone. I recall how back in the day, in an enchanting, mysterious city, life consisted of partying hard, meeting new people every week, taking a different road every day and not knowing what awaits in the next corner. We used to walk and not drive. We used to laugh heartily and not smile politely. We used to be in places where we were not supposed to be and drink very cheap wine and read and dance and kiss. We were not “comme-il-faut”, we were not perfectly moral and we may have even broken the law once or twice. But above all, we were ALIVE. Young, excited and thirsty for life. And there is nothing in the world that I miss more than that.