First days of May, but looking at people’s clothing it seems like late autumn. You can still see scarves and woolen hats.
Today is an odious day. Unceasing rain and biting wind. The classic to spend in the living room under the blankets, eating until you can’t eat any more while watching some useless program on television.
Instead, I am in this small village in southern Germany. I arrived a couple of minutes ago and the next train is in an exact hour. I have a tour of circumspection and I realize that the station is equipped only with a library and a bar. That’s all.
I enter the bar and order an espresso. The waiter asks me if I want to drink it “at the window“. That would be the series of tables arranged with a view to the outside, the parking of the station, or in a more secluded area at the bottom of the room.
I opt for “the window“. I don’t want to miss such a view. I take my place and observe the combination of colors of the chairs and tables. Light green and brown. I like it. It gives me the idea of a split between new and old. I sip the espresso with some fear, but I am happily surprised. It’s not bad at all. Perhaps low expectations play an important role in the judgment. I take out of my backpack the book I’m reading: “The sympathizer“, the Pulitzer Prize of 2015.
I read in a language that is not my native one and live in a country where another language is spoken. I’ve gone so far as to handle four idioms with enough ease. One never knows how many goals can reach. Between one line and the next, I let myself be distracted by the people who arrive at the station. I look up more and more often and enjoy the spectacle of everyday life. I look at people and try to guess their lives. It’s an exercise I’ve been doing since I was a child.
I created stories in my mind starting from reality because it has never been enough for me. Meanwhile, a young girl, too young, running with a stroller attracts my attention. I always wonder what motivates people to have children while they are in what is undoubtedly the best age. She enters the station and disappears in a blink of an eye.
Meanwhile, a stream of teenagers enter and leave the station like ants. I look at their faces and the way they are dressed. It reminds me of the importance I gave to the appearance when I was their age and the total disinterest I felt in school. As I resume the reading I feel a man behind me ordering something speaking in Italian. He knows the waiter. The two of them exchange a couple of jokes. I like the feeling I get when I understand someone who speaks a language other than the local one and this does not have the faintest idea that there is an unknown person around who can understand it. It gives me a feeling of power and control.
I have always needed to keep everything under control. Especially when I’m in a public place I don’t know. I keep reading while I keep my headphones, but all I really do is check the situation around me. I hear a gentleman asking the waiter where the sugar is. I have it. The cashier I assume points towards me and I hear the man moving to my direction. He touches my shoulder and, almost embarrassed, asks me if he can take the sugar. I pretend to fall from the pear tree and play the part. I am one step ahead, I have always been one step ahead. Nothing catches me unprepared. It is impossible to surprise me, I always know what happens, especially if they are people I know. People have become so predictable today that there is nothing interesting about establishing relationships. You only need to go around every social profile to have an almost perfect knowledge of an individual. And then they’re all so interested and focused on themselves. No one observes or tries to understand who is around them. They are impressed when you tell them the smallest details after a short conversation and they don’t understand how you were able to understand them so clearly. It’s so easy for me, a kind of hobby I’d say.
I keep reading, along with pauses to observe people outside.
I like it. For a moment I think I could live in the stations. That wouldn’t be a bad idea since all I need to do to work is my laptop and a Wi-Fi connection. I check the clock and I realize that forty minutes have passed. In twenty minutes I have the train. In ten minutes I get off the table.
I close the book and start to think about my next destination. A town in the south-east of Germany, on the border with Austria. A new reality, new people to know and stories to tell, at least I hope. I don’t know what I could call this period of my life.
As I get up, the words of Ghemon in the song “Voci nella testa” come to mind.
A rhyme says: “direction I don’t know well“.
I modify it, I could call this precise moment of my existence “direction nowhere“.
I don’t know where I’m going, but that’s okay.