Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The strategy of a (light) snail

Many years ago, before I even had started moving around on a semestral basis, I watched a Colombian movie, Sergio Cabrera’s “La estrategia del caracol” (The strategy of the snail): when the owner of a building kicks his tenants out, they decide to react and move taking with them all of their homes, internal walls, windows, roofs, pipes included. Just like a snail, they brought their home with them.

I watched it by pure chance and enjoyed it a lot: I missed no opportunity to talk about it to anybody I knew. As it seems to happen with every single movie I watch by pure chance and I like, I never saw “La estrategia del caracol” broadcasted on tv ever again and was nowhere to be found in the shop. So imagine my happiness when Colin found it for me many years later.

Moving flats, cities and countries in the past 10 years has taught me many important lessons.
I had to learn to take into account many things and reevaluate concepts that I thought I grasped already.

One of such concept is “space”.
Space is all around, it’s obvious, isn’t it?
But can you touch space? No you can't, unless of course you run out of it and you start touching the lack of if.
In the past I was almost maniacally obsessed with things and consequently with space, or lack of it. I was a hoarder in the making: I wasn’t able to throw away even the smallest item, if it had a memory or emotional meaning attached to it.

“What?!? Throwing away this very old bus ticket? No way! It’s the ticket I used when I went to the movie with mum and Adri to watch Back to the Future II, I can’t part from it! Plus, what’s the harm? It’s only a small ticket, it doesn’t take that much space anyway.”

You probably can't even imagine how many small tickets I had and what was the harm they became for me.
I had so much stuff I couldn’t possibly move them all with me when I migrated to the UK. I needed to find a solution for it and I did find it: I started putting stuff into the cellar.
Ok, let’s be honest: the cellars, as I took over my parents' cellar too. Not to mention how I slowly but surely formed a literary colony on their book shelves.

Out of sight, out of mind.

When I moved back to Milan, I realized there was not enough space for all the things I had hidden in the cellars over the years. Well, not much of a problem really, I kept repeating to myself: I just need to put my flat back together and sort out everything once that was done.

This small trick allowed me 2 and an half extra years to come up with a solution. And look and behold! I found a solution!
Or, rather, the solution found me.
In the last years I somehow learnt to value my space, to enjoy having space around me without feeling the compulsion to fill it with stuff.

I’ve also started disentangling from things. I realized I don’t need to keep e-ve-ry single little thing, souvenir, piece of paper and photo in order to keep my memories alive. They’re still there: I threw back the bus ticket, but I can still remember the massive amount of people packing the Reposi cinema when mum fought her way to the cashier and got us the tickets.

I’m still a snail, carrying my little home with me wherever I go, but I’ve started learning to make it lighter.


  1. Hey, thanks for the mention! Lovely film.
    Here's wishing you a spacious New Year!

  2. After writing the post, I went and searched for the dvd, only to remember I left it in the dvd player back in Milan!