Vague Thoughts, Incomplete Stories & Random Ideas

Non era né la vecchiaia né noia né malattia né stanchezza che lo stava uccidendo. La causa si nascondeva nei mobili della sua vecchia casa. Nei cassetti e negli armadi e fra le tante carte ingiallite.

Era tutta colpa del mostro che usciva di notte dagli angoli più insospettabili, e mentre l’uomo dormiva gli si avvicinava in silenzio, e mordeva via un pezzo del addormentato sognante per poi fuggire di nuovo nell’oscurità della notte, in uno di quei mobili, nei cassetti, fra le tante carte ingiallite.

Ogni notte succedeva così, da molti anni. E più passavano gli anni, più quel povero uomo stava sparendo, rinsecchendosi, ranicchiandosi, divorato lentamente nel corso di decenni, sentendosi inutile al mondo, consapevole che la sua esistenza non serviva a nient’altro che non fosse nutrire quel terribile mostro che si chiamava nostalgia.

Il Collezionista

C’era una volta un uomo. La sua casa era grande, aveva molte stanze, e ogni stanza conteneva molti oggetti. A guardarli sembravano oggetti normali, oggetti che potevano trovarsi in una qualunque stanza, di una qualunque casa, di un uomo qualunque.

Per esempio, in cucina c’era un bicchiere sporco. Dirai che non c’è nulla di più normale che un bicchiere sporco in cucina. Il fatto è che quel bicchiere sporco stava lì, sporco, da ben due anni, quattro mesi e cinque giorni. Ce n’erano altri di bicchieri in cucina, ed erano puliti. Ma quello rimaneva lì, sporco e mai utilizzato.

Due anni, quattro mesi e cinque giorni prima, ad appoggiarlo lì fu una donna. Una donna che dopo averlo poggiato, senza nemmeno aver finito la birra che conteneva, disse: “Adesso vado,” e se ne andò.

Nel salotto c’era invece un elastichetto, di quelli felpati per i capelli, per terra, ficcato quasi completamente sotto il divano, si vedeva appena. Nel bagno, poi, c’era uno di quei cosetti di plastica dove si mettono le lenti a contatto, aperto sul bordo del lavandino. Ma ovviamente, l’uomo che viveva in quella casa e usava quel bagno non portava lenti a contatto.

E così via, la casa conteneva questi piccoli pezzi unici, conservati nelle posizioni esatte in cui erano stati lasciati. Lui, molto rispettosamente, non li spostava mai, in un primo momento perché pensava che forse il proprietario di quegli oggetti sarebbe tornato a prenderli, e forse a continuare a usarli in quella stessa casa. Poi, in un secondo momento, quando aveva capito che le cose non sarebbero andate così, si avvicinava a questi oggetti per annusarli un po’, senza però mai sfiorarli.

Adesso quegli oggetti non li annusava nemmeno più, perché in fondo avevavo ormai preso ad odorare esattamente come il bancone della cucina, o come il pavimento sotto il divano, o come il lavandino. Se inizialmente questi oggetti possedevano un loro leggerissimo odore distinto da ciò che li circondava, adesso, anni dopo, non più. Ma il tipo li lasciava comunque lì, indisturbati, rispettati, nonostante fossero ormai privi di profumi passati.

Four

Her name was Mary, her father called her caterpillar, her friends skinnybeans. She wore sweaters and socks and hats. She was normal in that sense, in the sense that she seemed to do what everybody did. She sang and yelled and picked her nose, just like anyone else. She jumped and searched for four-leaf clovers for hours and when she got tired, she yawned, and stretched and walked away.

Then Mary grew up. She gained weight, wrinkles and pessimism, but she was still just like anyone else. You could have taken her picture and posted it on walls and billboards and television, and no one would ever say there was something strange or wrong or different about her.

Yet, however average and ordinary and conventional a human she was, Mary felt freakish and queer and wrong. She, just like you and me and our friends, felt out of place and disconnected and confused.

Mary thought that her life was a mistake, meaningless, one of God’s random errors. She felt uninvited and bored and stupid. Stupid for once thinking she mattered, thinking flowers mattered, love mattered. Older, and sadder and more alone, her acquired experience only served to make her notice how empty and meaningless and tragic everything in life really was.

So she sighed and hid and ate more, falling deeper into her couch and tv and self. Until one day she tripped and crushed her nose, and instead of getting up she remained still, laying on her lawn, hoping it would all just end forever, finally, immediately. But it didn’t, and when she opened her eyes, she saw a clover with not one, not two, not three leaves… but four.

It’s Okay

There are certain writers, usually men, throughout the world, that at some point decide to write a book which collects random thoughts and anecdotes. You read these books, and as you go through them, you slowly piece together the writer’s life. How old he is, where he comes from, where he is now, if he has kids…

Inevitably, at some point in the book, usually about two thirds of the way through, he recounts how a terribly romantic love story began in his youth. He describes the girl in question in an ambiguous, generic way, as if to suggest she was just one of many throughout the years. Yet the words somehow reveal the girl was particularly special. “And I went on to marry her” he then reveals at the end of the chapter.

As you keep reading, he recounts how they went to live in a small apartment, learned how to deal with the hot water always running out, got better jobs, had a kid, got a larger apartment, traveled, fought, made up, had another kid. Then, twenty pages later, you deduce they’re no longer together, even though the writer doesn’t ever go into whatever tragedy befell the relationship. All you gather is that now he lives with another woman, younger probably. He doesn’t explain why it ended because it doesn’t really matter. That’s just what happens in life. Things end. New things begin… and somehow, it’s okay.

The Barman

Once upon a time there was, and probably still is, a quiet and solitary barman working in a small café few people ever go into. The small café is in a pretty, small town, populated by quiet people and a few tourists. These few tourists are usually lovers, lovers of all ages. They arrive to this small town by train, arriving from opposite directions.

If they are under twenty years of age, they meet in the small, pretty town in the morning, kiss at every corner, then cry and hug in the afternoon at the train station platform as they see each other off. If they are older, they reserve a room in a b&b, where they spend hours making love, and only leave the room in the evening to go have dinner in a cozy restaurant.

Whatever their age, the lovers always end up finding their way to the small café where the quiet, solitary barman has been working for many years. He recognizes them immediately but says nothing. He takes their order and lets them sit for as long as they wish without intruding. He knows that if they are talking they have just met, and that if they are silent their time together is about to come to an end. Sometimes he sees them twice, when they’ve just arrived and are chatty, then again when all they do is nostalgically gaze into each other’s eyes and forget to drink their coffees.

Sometimes he recognizes lovers from years before, there again, after much has happened in their respective, separate lives. He knows they’ve been there before by how they walk in. The look in their eyes, the way they scan the café, remembering the first time they were there. How they move to a specific table without hesitation. Yet somehow they never notice him. They have no idea he’s the same barman. All they see is each other. The few moments of perfect, idealized love demands all of their attention.

Yet the barman is very likely the only one who knows of their affair, he’s the only one who has witnessed their unfiltered gazes. He also knows most of them will never see each other again. They have lived a perfect day of love, and in but a few hours they will return to normality, back to jobs and husbands. He knows all this because he’s seen hundreds, perhaps thousands of couples passing through.

So he doesn’t mind being invisible, he feels connected to them. Soon those lovers will part ways and leave their love in that café, in the custody of a quiet and solitary barman they didn’t even notice, who will silently keep the traces of their fleeting love affair in his heart, for perhaps longer than they will themselves.

Ordinary

When I was young(er), I was skinny(er). My rib cage showed through my skin, I felt my shoulders bending forward in their natural state. I was deviated, different from all the other normal boys who had thicker bone structure and knew how to bite their nails, something I tried so hard to learn but never could.

I once made fun of a friend (basically my only one at the time) who was kind of chubby. I saw him without his shirt on and noticed that his belly button, unlike mine, didn’t stick out. Quite the opposite, it created a little hole in his otherwise protruding belly, as if there was an elastic on his inside fighting against the body’s will to fatten. And in that hole, there was some sort of dark, tangly stuff that caught my eye. When he told me it was lint, I thought it was quite odd and wrong for a belly button to accumulate such things. And even though he assured me it was the norm, and that everyone who wasn’t as skinny as me possessed belly button lint, I didn’t believe him, and at least in that department, I felt I was more normal.

But ultimately I knew I wasn’t actually normal at all, being so skinny. I somehow believed that if I hadn’t been so scrawny, and possibly didn’t wear glasses, my life would be very different. I would be cool, that special girl would like me, the other boys would include me in their clique, and I would magically feel like I fit into a world which wasn’t so alienating and full of heart ache as the one I was accustomed to… if only I wasn’t so skeletal and four-eyed.

Somehow, though, I survived. I started growing facial hair and putting on a little weight. I then got contact lenses, and girlfriends, too. Life still didn’t feel quite as welcoming as I once hoped, but somehow it wasn’t as intolerable as before. And nowadays, I even find myself chatting to a random guy who might have a tattoo or large jaw bone, or play an electric guitar, and actually feel connected to him, as if it was okay to be me as I am, tattooless, with a triangular face, and not a hip musician.

Now, before I go to bed at night, I don’t have that dooming sensation of not belonging. I just wonder whether I’ll sleep comfortably. I wonder if there’s a new pillow configuration I can adopt to avoid waking up with a sore neck. I wonder how I can save more money or how I can find more free time. And when I take my shirt off, the first thing my hand does is anxiously reach down to my belly button to remove any trace of lint that may be residing there. And I am silently unsettled when I find some, as if it wasn’t normal.

I had to wake up at four in the morning to fly across the ocean. As always, I slept uncomfortably, tossing and turning, certain I would hardly get any rest because that’s what happens when I know I have to wake up early to do something important. Then, as always, I fall asleep about an hour before I have to wake up, which makes it even harder to then get up when the alarm goes off.

Often I dream in that hour of sleep which feels more like five minutes. This time, I had a meta-dream. I dreamt I had to get up at four in the morning because I had to catch a flight, and I couldn’t sleep, in the dream. As I began to doze off, in the dream, I got thrown out of bed by a couple of cousins who were passing through and wanted to say goodbye. Suddenly, my house was filled with family members, all of us thrown out of bed to accommodate my cousins’ whim to bid me off on such short notice.

The only one not to be rudely awakened was my grandfather. He always woke up at dawn. I often wondered what he looked like when he woke up in the mornings. I couldn’t imagine him yawning or struggling to climb out of bed. The table was set, and the whole family was gathered eating in silence, most of us sleepy as hell.

Finally, I commented on how at least I got to have breakfast with my grandfather, something I’d never managed to do before. And as he sat eating ravenously, he corrected me with an air of indifference. He said it was actually the third time we had breakfast together. I thought of how beneath his hard shell he kept count of something he was trying to pass off as an insignificant fact.

Up in the air, over the ocean, leaving my homeland behind, I thought of how dreaming takes you beyond the limits of life. You can spend time with someone you thought you’d never see again. Maybe it’s even possible to travel in time, and change the past. In fact, my grandfather was wrong, I had never actually gotten up early enough to have breakfast with him, not even once.

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