Like early Monday morning, around 6:15 a.m. : I know the alarm clock is set for an early hour, earlier than usual, and I know I can't snooze it. I got a train to catch, so I can’t really turn around with the risk of missing my ride back to Milan.
That's why I try to go to bed early on Sunday evening. Try being the keyword as I miserably fail each single time and end up going to bed late, grumbling about being grumpy the morning after.
Then why, oh why, do I end up waking before the alarm clock?
Should I compliment my inner clock for being so proactive?!?
I check the time on the phone on the nightstand.
Still 15 minutes to go before I'm supposed to be up.
"Go back to sleep" I say to myself.
"No... It's late for falling back asleep. I'm up! I'm up rise and shine!!! I'm uuuuup!" Myself has I-take-no-order-from-anybody-not-even-myself attitude.
“Go. Back. To. Sleep.” I order myself.
“Lalalalalalala I’m not listening!” Myself is obviously quite an anarchic git.
This morning, as I was trying to force some extra minute of rest on my body (you'll thank me later, body), myself decided we had enough sleep and we should wake up: that’s the moment I started hearing something.
No, not voices: it was way too early even for schizophrenia to kick in, even though it’s never too early for some pluralis majestatis.
Was it a piano perhaps? Some chords... Yeah familiar chords, but I could not place them.
It was annoying: it woke me way before the alarm clock. I dig through the mess in my head, but couldn’t place it. The tune grew louder and clearer and by the time I locked the door behind me and started my walk to the station, the fog started rising.
I swiped my ticket at the metro entrance and I’m smiling because now the song is clear in my head: I can hear the melody, the words, the backup vocals.
I know the song, few taps on the phone and it’s not playing just in my head but on my headset too.
Like many Monday morning before, I’m sad and upset. I’m maybe a bit more down than usual, as the weekend has been so nice, lovely and serendipitous, the kind of weekend you wish it never ends. And yet it did end and what’s ahead of me is not so nice or lovely (I don’t think serendipity applies to Milan somehow).
And while the song kept playing on repeat, I stopped thinking about the train I had to take, the appointments ahead and just smiled at the memories of the last 48 hours.
It was a quiet weekend, family, friends and nap in between; I met new friends, new friends almost getting into a fight with an asthmatic dog; I met friends I planned to meet and friends I stumbled upon while crossing the road.
Sometimes I tell myself I should call or text a friend and 9 times out of 10 I don’t. I’m not sure why: surrounded and immersed into communication tools as I am on a daily basis, it shouldn’t be such a tough thing to do. Sometimes I got a desk with more iPad and iPhones than fingers on my hand, it shouldn't be such a task. Yet, most of times, I end up postponing calling people (so I don’t bother them), up to the point it’s too late in the night and I might as well do it tomorrow.
Some of my friendships languished and later died this way; on the other hand I believe it was their fate, they were not real enough, or maybe they were just one-sided, unrequited friendship. Just like love, being in a friendship means both parties have to work and care enough to keep it alive.
But for those 9 out of 10 dead ends, there’s still that remaining 1 and it compensates for all of them. That 1 doesn’t care how many months go by before we talk to or see one another: in the moment we meet again, it feels we just spoke one hour before and for all the thing that changed around us, our friendship didn’t. Or, if it did, it improved.
It’s quite awesome, isn’t it? For all the negative things that surround me, it’s an amazing feeling, to know I’m lucky to have such great friends. The trick is to remember about such luck: it’s so easy and dangerous to focus on all the bad stuff. Maybe because they’re more, but somehow the notion I got awesome friends fall too easily into the background.
I'm grateful for those friends, and I know it sounds cheesy, especially coming from somebody like me. A lifetime long education in stoic behaviours makes expressing gratitude and heartfelt emotions a tough, awkward experience. To say I feel happy, lucky, touched by having such great friends sounds weird, yet true to my ear.
And I should remind myself more often: breathing becomes easier after.
And in case you were wondering about the song… it was by Glen Hansard (who else?)