Monday, 9 December 2013

Sunday musings

I spent the weekend in Milan. Not a big news, given I live in Milan, but it was an important decision for me. December 8th traditionally marks the beginning of the Xmas period in Italy: at my parents' it's the day we set up the Christmas tree and the nativity scene.
Yeah, a brunch of atheist do that: we're not hypocrites, quite the contrary. We gladly embrace the consumerism of our society, it's all about days off, food and presents for us. It's just extra sweet because of my nephew and nieces. So in a way it could have been expected for me to sit on the train back to Torino late on Friday evening to spend the day with my family and friends. But what for? To have people then standing me up because they got other plans and having to wake incredibly early on Monday morning to go to straight to the office?!?
It sounds fascinating enough, but no, thank you.

I decided not only to stay put, but to not move until Xmas time. I received some texts from people that "expected" me to be in Torino, but I just told them I was in Milan. Invitation to join me here were met with silence... makes me feel so appreciated, geez, thank you guys.

So while one side of my bitter self was thinking about the pressing need to re-evaluate friendships as soon as possible and to further trim down my address book, another part of me joined the consumeristic people all around me for a weekend of Xmas shopping.

I spent Saturday afternoon with Flavia, a girl I met in a knitting group: we went to see a craft art fair. It was free, it was huge, it was crowded! Basically half Milan moved to the fair: I can positively say that we left the place quite dazed, and it was not for the mirto we drank. Also cause the sample we were given was so tiny, not even an ant could have ended up drunk with that!
The fair had exhibitors from all over the world and from each Italian region. I ended up buying food and alcohol, which I diligently packed, thus avoiding to fall in temptation and to empty the bottle before it reaches its intended receiver.

Not happy with this burst of shopping, on Sunday I went to the Milan city centre for the "obei obei". It's supposed to be the traditional Milan Christmas fair, but times are changing and now it looks like yet another market: lot of stalls with food, flowers, Christmas decoration, magical spot remover and super-whatever-peeler.
I ended up not buying a single present there, I made up for those after the fair by taking a stroll through the city centre.
I just used the fair as an excuse for taking a stroll, having a pancake, drinking some mulled wine and buying some dried ginger. In the meanwhile I also took a look around and came up with one question and one thesis.

The question is: why would anybody think that an overcrowded busy fair in a cold and foggy winter day is the ideal way to spend time with his/her family, when it's plainly obvious that  the family is highly dysfunctional and nobody can tolerate each other?
I basically live 2 hours door-to-door from my parents.
I got plenty of issue of my own and so everybody else.
Aside when I had surgery and some other random events, nobody from Torino ever came to visit me. So I am painfully aware of the amount of time, money, patience, physical and psychological endurance you need in order to keep relationship going. I'm letting friendships dying right now, because I can't take it any longer and it looks not everybody is ready to share the weight with me.

But yesterday, walking around the fair, I saw something different. I saw people that live within a family, people that are not alone. Yet they looked more miserable than I am.
They looked trapped in the same kind of loneliness that surrounds me: I kept bumping into upset, angry people. Husbands running away from their spouses, parents forcibly dragging their kids, people swearing and cursing the day they met each other.
"Why did I marry you?"
"Move you stupid."
"You stupid little f****r, I wish you weren't born"

If you know you're going to get upset or angry with your family, wouldn't it be better to try and do something less stressful?
You don't need a Nobel prize to know that after one hour out a 3-year-old child will be tired and will want to be picked up by one of the parents: so why would any person sane of mind go to a fair, without a stroller just to scream to the kid "move or I leave you here"? Why not going to the park close to home instead?

The contrast was sharp: Christmas lights and decorations all over the place, decorations and traditional sweets on sale, the atmosphere was set for Christmas, yet the mood of lots of those people was quite miserable.

I have been thinking a little about the possible reason why: I spent the last 8 years envying people that got both job and family close, but it looks like they're not really aware of what they got.
I wonder if they envy me. To be honest, I'm not really sure of what I got either.

(as for the thesis, I'll tell you about another day: I'm tired now and it can wait).

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